Southwestern Japan Takes Steps to Deal with Flooding, Coronavirus
Boxes of face coverings, bottles filled with anti-bacterial agents and a sign saying "Please wear a mask" mark the entrance to a recreation center in Yatsushiro city.
The building serves as shelter for people who have fled floodwaters in southwestern Japan this week.
Inside the building, pieces of cardboard separate sleeping areas for over 200 men, women, and children. Another sign tells those staying there to take their temperature each morning.
Such measures show the difficulties Japan is facing as it deals with natural disasters in the time of coronavirus.
Japanese officials have been warning local leaders to include coronavirus measures in their disaster preparations. Residents have been urged to seek shelter with friends or family members, if possible, to avoid overcrowding in evacuation centers.
Aiko Ishimura, a 78-year-old retiree, learned from neighbors on Monday about evacuation orders. She lives alone and had planned to shelter at home. But she chose to flee with neighbors.
For Ishimura, spread of the coronavirus is not a top concern.
"We don't have many cases here in the first place. We don't really do the whole mask-wearing thing," she added. However, Ishimura said she keeps a mask in her pocket.
Kumomoto prefecture, where she lives, has had only 49 of Japan's more than 20,000 cases of the disease COVID-19. Those numbers come from the Japanese public broadcaster NHK.
That compares with close to 7,000 in Tokyo, where cases are on the rise again among its 14 million residents.
Misa Matsuda, a 48-year-old medical worker, knows well about the yearly floods in the area. She also had planned to remain at home. But she got a big surprise Monday when she opened her door. She found river water flowing just a few meters from her home.
"I thought, there's no way the water would come up here to our house, where it's a bit of a hill," she said.
Extreme weather disasters have become increasingly common in Japan recently. Last year, Typhoon Hagibis killed nearly 100 people. That storm struck a year after more than 200 died in western Japan in the worst flooding in many years.
Matsuda said she was not too concerned about the new coronavirus because basic safety measures were being taken. But she did worry that residents would gather in the shelter to talk, creating the sort of crowded conditions officials say increase infection risk.
City official Takanobu Ono said the evacuation center was limited to 300 people. It can hold up to 500 people.
"Some of (the residents) have just been saved by the skin of their teeth," he said. "The reality is that coronavirus is less of a concern for them...So we're taking the measures we have to but we haven't been so strict about it."
Close to 60 people have died from floods and landslides caused by heavy rains across the area since Saturday.
I'm Ashley Thompson.
Landslides have cut off many villages in remote areas.
Increasingly, their goals have become more radical.
This extreme view hasn't captured popular opinion.
His concern was that people would know that he was responsible
5."Some of (the residents) have just been saved by the skin of their teeth," he said.
by the skin of one's teeth 侥幸
I got to the airport late and missed the plane by the skin of my teeth.
The car missed me by inches. I escaped by the skin of my teeth.
6.Such measures show the difficulties Japan is facing as it deals with natural disasters in the time of coronavirus.
deal with 应对
She saw a psychiatrist who used hypnotism to help her deal with her fear.
He's a hard man to deal with.
在建筑内，一块块纸板隔出了男女老少的休息区域 。另一个标志牌上写着，每天早上所有人都要测量体温 。
日本官方一直在警告地方领导人在防灾准备工作中要考虑到预防冠状病毒的措施 。官方敦促居民尽可能前往亲友处求助，以避免疏散中心人满为患 。
78岁的退休人员石村爱子周一从邻居们那里得知了疏散令 。独居的她原本打算在家里避难，但最终选择了和邻居一起逃离家园 。
“首先，我们这里的病例不多 。我们真的不怎么戴口罩 。”不过，石村补充说，她的口袋里备着一只口罩 。
她居住的熊本县仅有49例新冠肺炎感染病例，整个日本有2万多感染病例 。这些数字来自日本公共广播公司日本放送协会（NHK） 。
48岁的医务工作者松田美沙非常了解该地区每年的洪水情况 。她也打算留在家里 。但当周一她打开门时却仍然感到非常吃惊 。她发现河水竟然漫到了她家仅几米远的地方 。
近来，极端天气灾害在日本越来越常见 。去年，台风海贝思造成近100人死亡 。而一年前，日本西部刚刚经历了多年来最严重的造成200多人死亡的洪灾 。
松田说，她不太担心新冠病毒，因为当地采取了基本的安全措施 。但她确实担心居民会聚集在避难所里交谈，造成了官方说的那种拥挤的环境，从而增加感染的风险 。
他说：“一些（居民）刚刚幸免遇难 。事实上，冠状病毒对他们来说不那么可怕……所以我们正在采取必要的措施，但我们对他们的要求并没有非常严格 。”