More than three weeks have passed since the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami hit the Tohoku region, but normalcy is still something very distant for many – especially the evacuees in emergency shelters.
Water and gas deficiency due to damaged pipelines in the earthquake aftermath remain one of the most severe problems. In many shelters, there is no water for baths or toilets.
Oshima, a small island off the coast of Miyagi Prefecture, has not had any tap water or gas since the day of the earthquake. Evacuees in the area have not taken a bath in all that time, despite a 83% recovery of water supply for the prefecture.
The hygiene in Onagawa, one of the most devastated cities in Miyagi Prefecture, is also becoming a problem. The norovirus began spreading in emergency shelters 10 days after the earthquake, affecting hundreds with abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea.
A full recovery of water and gas supply is still difficult in most of the damaged areas, especially in cities located along the coast. “We haven't even begun to plan where to place the new pipelines. It will take years until a complete recovery is seen in these areas,” explained an Miyagi prefectural government official.
According to a medical coordinator at the shelter, temporary baths are not well accepted by the older evacuees. “Older people refrain from taking a bath at such facilities – they aren’t used to the depth and shape of the bathtubs,” he said.© Compiled from news reports