A utility pole leans over a house in Minamiboso, Chiba Prefecture, on Friday. Photo: KYODO
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Residents grow weary over prolonged power cuts in Chiba Prefecture

29 Comments

Slow progress by utilities in fixing a power outage caused by Typhoon Faxai has left many residents of a district neighboring Tokyo debilitated and frustrated, as Friday brought a fifth day without electricity.

Industry minister Isshu Sugawara said parts of Chiba Prefecture may be affected by power cuts for another week or longer, after the typhoon ripped through the Tokyo metropolitan area on Monday.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe instructed all cabinet members to make the utmost effort in restoring essential utilities.

Some 195,000 households were without power as of 11 a.m., down from the peak of 935,000, and 280,000 late Thursday, according to Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.

The number of homes without water stood at around 27,000 in the morning, according to the Chiba prefectural government, with some areas unable to pump up underground supplies due to the lack of electricity.

And in some areas where power and water had been restored, the latter supply was lost again as people simultaneously turned on the taps, causing an imbalance of supply and demand and prompting the prefecture to call for water saving.

In the town of Tako, where some 4,000 households are without running water, Self-Defense Forces supplied water to residents.

In the town of Kyonan, the typhoon smashed roof tiles and windows, and stripped some homes of their entire roof. As most parts of the town remained without electricity, residents depended on candles for their evening light.

"The power outage is continuing and my home is a mess. I've never experienced something like this, and it is taxing," said Kazuko Yamanoi, 55. On Thursday, she had a cup noodle and rice ball for dinner, and had to put outside a candle she was using for lighting.

The inside of her home had become too hot as temperatures soared earlier in the week, and as she was unable to use an air conditioner due to a lack of electricity.

"I want to take a warm bath and get a deep sleep soon," she said.

TEPCO, which services the area, initially sought to restore power to everyone by Wednesday, but now has no specific timeframe for a full resumption after being criticized for giving what turned out to be an inaccurate prediction.

Chiba Mayor Toshihito Kumagai criticized the utility on Thursday, saying, "Announcing an optimistic outlook does not help those affected."

"We want (TEPCO) to have the mind of assuming the worst situation as much as possible and share the information so all of those involved can prepare for it," he said.

At a press conference on Thursday, Kazuyuki Shiokawa of TEPCO subsidiary TEPCO Power Grid Inc said the company regrets taking an optimistic view, explaining it had failed to grasp the extent of damage to the power grid in mountainous areas, as felled trees hindered its effort.

The industry minister said the strength of transmission towers and power poles must be reviewed, after they were toppled.

Masakazu Kato, a professor at Tokyo Denki University specializing in electrical systems engineering, said resumption in just a few days was impossible, given the recovery from a similarly powerful typhoon in western Japan last year took a long time.

"As the (Tokyo) metropolitan area rarely experiences damage from typhoons, the lack of experience likely made the company assume too optimistically," he said.

Faxai made landfall near the city of Chiba early Monday, becoming one of the strongest recorded typhoons to hit the Kanto region of eastern Japan.

© KYODO

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

29 Comments
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Does Tepco have proper contingency plans for anything at all?....What kind of incompetents are in charge?...obviously nothing has changed in the company culture at all. Lucky that the weather has cooled a bit in Kanto today ...

10 ( +12 / -2 )

TEPCO blatantly lying? Hum, who is surprised.

But that's not the worst thing here. The worst thing is that the country is not prepared for major natural disasters in contrary to common beliefs. Imagine the mess it would be if a major earthquake hits the region?

15 ( +17 / -2 )

At least get generators on the water pumping systems. Replacing those collapsed pylons with the high voltage cable takes time.

The poles too needs replacing. One of the main reasons for using poles is because there are no rental charges but if cables are placed underground they incur rental charges.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Does Tepco have proper contingency plans for anything at all?.

They do. Remember the scheduled blackouts after 311? As though they knew it was coming.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe instructed all cabinet members to make the utmost effort in restoring essential utilities

Restoring essential utilities? Yeah, right! Where are all the generators and water trucks to give these people support before even more people die? If the power outage was in Kasumigaseki the streets would be lined with truck generators.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

"TEPCO, which services the area, initially sought to restore power to everyone by Wednesday, but now has no specific timeframe for a full resumption after being criticized for giving what turned out to be an inaccurate prediction."

Hmmm... where have I heard this before. Fool me once, shame on you! Fool me twice...

Get ready for another government bailout for TEPCO in order to clean up this mess, and another CEO fleeing for the hills and citing "tummy trouble".

2 ( +6 / -4 )

"Residents grow weary over prolonged power cuts in Chiba Prefecture"

I can imagine! Government should be shipping in portable generators. They aren't hard to get running and give people at least a bit of normalcy.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Do no blame TEPCO very much. They are working hard to restore. In Japan, natural disasters happen in large scales beyond people's imaginations. Winds blowing over 50 k.m. per second in the metropolitan areas is what nobody expected.

-10 ( +4 / -14 )

Vanity,

They (TEPCO) have had enough of our money over the years to prepare for any emergency.TEPCO are the literal meaning of 'Pigs at the Trough.'TEPCO is the epitome of what is wrong in Japan.

In Japan everything is a boys' own club.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

Lots of complaints, with very few people understanding that this type of catastrophe isn't limited to Japan. I thought the Japanese people were patient. Tepco has only so many linemen. I found Abe's comment that his cabinet members should do everything possible to restore power to be the most hilariously stupid thing that could come from his mouth. What will those suits do??? Climb a pole? Bring out hand-pumps for water lines?

Jeez!

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Underground utility lines and cables? Luckily the weather has cooled today. To be without AC at 35 degrees poses danger.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

In Japan, natural disasters happen in large scales beyond people's imaginations. Winds blowing over 50 k.m. per second in the metropolitan areas is what nobody expected.

Total nonsense...as you know very well Osaka / Kansai had the same thing happen just last year, .this BS ' nobody could have expected ' crap of an excuse doesnt wash it.....the typhoons happen regularly , where are the lessons learned ?

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Tepco are so illprepared for natural disasters. Th government needs to fine them for not have services on.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Why blaming Tepco? They are fixing a mess made from mother nature. Why not cutting some trees that stand too close from these electric poles? That'b a good idea

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Being without electricty for several days is very difficult. Not having a roof or running water or cell service makes it even more unpleasant. Now is the time to look at the kinds of things that can happen and prepare yourself before it happens in the future. People know that typhoons, earthquakes, heavy rain, mudslides, and so on happen in Japan. So, get prepared, prepare your family. Look at your roof, can it stand high winds, if not fix it so it can. What happens if the power goes off for a week? How will you charge your cell phone? Get an alternate source of power in case of emergency. Generators, solar panels, backup batteries, car accessory chargers are cheap these days. Don't just wait for he city to send out people to help you, help yourself. That's the idea of self reliance, it's how you avoid being a burden on others and keep your family safe. This is certainly lacking in Japan. But that can change.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

@zichi

The poles too needs replacing. One of the main reasons for using poles is because there are no rental charges but if cables are placed underground they incur rental charges.

If I remember correctly the underground is mostly owned by the government in Japan so it should not be a problem to have no rental charge if the said government choose not to in exchange of diminution of risk of having poles, cables, ... falling over buildings, people, cars, ... every now and then.

@John Beara

Why not cutting some trees that stand too close from these electric poles?

Why not leaving the tree alone ? They did nothing bad and they were there before the pole. Do you really believe typhoon need trees to mess up electric pole ? Sorry to disappoint you but it is not the case.

@vanityofvanities

Do no blame TEPCO very much. They are working hard to restore.

People are not blaming the people really doing the job. Everyone knows they are working their ass off. They blame Tepco as the ones in the company which are in power to make decision and are paid to foresee this kind of event and have emergency plan ready.

Winds blowing over 50 k.m. per second in the metropolitan areas is what nobody expected.

I think most of the people here find it perfectly expectable, not as a every year one thought. It is not the first time that kind hit Japan and climatologist and meteorologist are pretty clear there number are going to increase. So, there is something wrong with management of crisis, like providing generators for critical places : water pumping system, evacuation center and other collective place where people can gather to have aircon/ventilator/heater in case the electricity is cut during heat/cold wave, ...

There is something wrong with the preparation for natural disasters as Japan knows it have heavy risk of it. I am kind of wondering, since they really do natural disaster drills, if by any chance perhaps Japan is just trying to get ready for the big one hitting Tokyo and preparation for smaller sized disasters is just not so well done.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Ladies and gentlemen, this is how you tell the rot in the system has reached the point of no return. Take note, utility taxes going up in October.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I thought Japan was well-prepared for disasters... Japanese people keep telling me that.

It seems that it's not true.

I saw on TV that elderly people in care-homes have been suffering terribly.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Just saying, but if anyone is shopping for a family car, the big hybrid vans made by Toyota, the Estima and Alphard, have a 1500W inverter as standard. They've been on sale for fifteen years, so you can get a cheap one second hand. 1500W should be enough to run some lights, some fans, recharge your phones, run your router and wifi, and run a laptop. For cooking, you're better off using gas cassettes, which you should have in anyway in preparation for an earthquake. We've actually used our car as a generator post earthquake to run a vacuum cleaner. Pretty much every single item of crockery we had ended up smashed on the floor, so it was a huge help to us.

Obviously running your car all day will empty your tank, but a few hours in the evening shouldn't make too much of a dent. You could just buy a standalone generator of course, and siphon fuel out of your car, but the hybrid system in the van will also give you better fuel economy in normal times. You get two for the price of one.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Doesn't this Country have transportable Generators for Key Utilities ?

I guess if you're going to be living out in the Countryside, it may be worth buying your own Solar Power kit and/or backup generator.

The Government has failed these local Communities - it could have at least provided something for them.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Japan needs a Nipponese version of FEMA.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If you live in a place prone to disasters, seems like being prepared would be smart.

Who doesn't properly prepare for typhoons in advance with water, food, medications, extra batteries, generator, extra fuel, camping gear all ready and tested? We expected to be without power/water for 2-3 weeks.

We always had a family plan and it did NOT include "wait for govt to help."

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I understand the complaints, but when you consider other places that have it much worse (the Bahamas), they should consider themselves a little lucky.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Over the years Japan bureaucracy has become so inept, that if you cut it by at leat 75℅ it might just become efficient again.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

How bad did Togane’ area get hit ? I know someone there I haven’t heard from

(used to live in Yachimata).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I just love the "emergency generators" armchair specialists One such generator provides 2-300 kWh at maximum, enough to power one street (50-70 houses), if people turn on air conditioners. For engineering reasons, that street will have to be taken off the normal grid, something quite difficult to do. How many thousands of generators were you proposing again? Where are the thousands of highly specialised workers capable of taking apart the system and put it back together when all this is finished?

Not protecting TEPCO in any way, in just an electrical engineer.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The industry minister said the strength of transmission towers and power poles must be reviewed, after they were toppled.

Let me guess the solution- more concrete!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'll rant on this for a bit more:

Because electricity always works in Japan, people can't really imagine how hugely complex and difficult to manage piece of infrastructure this is. Thousands on times more complex than the road infrastructure. Chiba, being a peninsula is powered by massive 200kV power lines that run along its center and spread out like a tree. It failed where nobody really expected it to fail, with the huge towers collapsing. Besides having to rebuild all that, investigations are needed in order to find out what went wrong and fix it. Only this job usually takes months if not years, usually. TEPCO are really pushing it by promising fixes in two weeks, I can tell you these are only patchwork jobs, and a massive operation on live lines will have to come to do a final repair. My deepest respect to the linemen and engineers sweating it out there, you deserve every yen of your salary. Not many of the internet specialists would want it could do their extremely well paid jobs.

Here,a good video on that:

https://youtu.be/FGoaXZwFlJ4

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The national grid system was a tragic mistake. First two electrical systems were allowed with different frequencies in East and West Japan.

Then the grids mostly go out from a single power lines.

In the UK the national grid is a loop system. If a power line is lost then the power can still flow. Also the distribution of power and better for dealing with sudden power demands. Power companies input their power into the grid. Power generated in Scotland can be used in London.

When the 3/11 disasters happened the failure of power supplies would have been much less with a loop national grid.

https://www.nationalgridet.com/network-and-assets/network-route-maps

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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