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Fukushima, downed by a nuclear disaster, suffers a major typhoon strike



KORIYAMA, Japan – For Hiroyoshi Yaginuma, the typhoon could be the straw that breaks his back. On Monday, Mr. Yaginuma, 49, owner of a third-generation car body shop in Fukushima Prefecture, cleared the wreckage of Typhoon Hagibis, which hit Japan last weekend and killed 66 people. The typhoon brought with it record-breaking rains that led to a dam bursting on a nearby river that caused floods on the first floor of his building and destroyed everything.

Just two years ago, Mr. Yaginuma finally paid off a $ 185,000 loan he had raised to rebuild his business in Koriyama, an industrial city in Fukushima, after being badly damaged in 201

1 by a devastating earthquake and tsunami had been.

Fukushima is the name everybody remembers eight years ago. In this prefecture, waves of the tsunami overwhelmed the protective walls of a nuclear power plant and triggered a catastrophic meltdown. Tens of thousands of people were evacuated; Many still have not returned.

On Monday, when Mr. Yaginuma surveyed the garage floor, where destroyed equipment and lots of tires, hubcaps and oil cans drowned in a mud bath, he said he was not sure he could summon them The Energy to rebuild his business ,

"I think it might be over now," he said. "I think there is a possibility that this is a place where not many people can live anymore."

Typhoon Hagibis struck when the Japanese government and many community leaders wanted to declare Fukushima healthy after the 2011 crisis.

Critics have said that the narrative was already too rosy. The cleanup work at the Daiichi nuclear power plant is still far from over . The government has not decided what to do with more than one million tons of contaminated water stored in nearly 1,000 tanks on the site.

Soil that was exposed to radiation in the days following the nuclear accident was scraped off in millions of industrial-grade plastic bags throughout the prefecture. In the city of Tamura, the flood displaced an unknown number of these bags from an interim storage facility, although ten bags later were recovered undamaged.

The region must now undergo more intensive cleanup to recover from the typhoon, with a stadium 55 miles west of the Daiichi plant preparing to host baseball during the Tokyo Summer Olympics next year.

The storm flooded several communities in Fukushima with floods from the Abukuma River. According to NHK, the public broadcaster, 25 people died in Fukushima as a result of the typhoon.

Some facilities that were damaged in 2011 in Koriyama, less than 75 kilometers from the nuclear power plant, were hit again this weekend. A hospital that was put out of action for two months, for example, by the earthquake, flooded this time.

On Monday, many parts of the city were still under water. Where the water had gone down, residents and business owners went back to find out what could not be saved.

In an industrial park off the banks of the Abukuma, there were sofas, bookshelves, desks and office chairs on the side of the road waiting for the garbage collection. When it rained again, workers splashed walls and wiped floors.

At Sanko Mokuzai, a company that sells wood-burning stoves and lumber, managing director Toshiyuki Iwasaki, 63, joined several workers to load water-damaged wood panels on a pickup truck.

The nuclear catastrophe of Fukushima had already forced him to find another source of wood after the government had banned the sale of lumber from the prefecture, he said he could not afford it, because of the local links that existed in the 50 years of company history have been relocated.

"If I have to move, I have to give up my business." [19659002] Still, he said he had little appetite for the government that advocated Fukushima's recovery.

"I have no real ambitions for Fukushima," he said. "We just have to do what we need for ourselves. We do not really think, let's do that for Fukushima.

Although the population in the region has declined overall and the over-65s now make up almost a third of the population, Fukushima's plight has attracted a few new residents who are hoping that this will still be revived.

Naohisa Fujita, 46, and his wife Yumi, 34, said they moved from Nagano to Koriyama in 2013 because they wanted to help people in the area.

Early Monday morning, Mr. Fujita, who works in house maintenance and renovation, could help someone directly. When he and two other residents took a boat to investigate the damage caused by the floods of the typhoon in their neighborhood, they rescued an elderly man and his son stranded in their home.

The Fujitas said they were worried about when they could retire to their flooded first floor apartment after cleaning them. They admitted that they may need to find a new place of residence.

Nevertheless, Ms. Fujita was determined to stay in Koriyama. "We have to work to make this place habitable," she said.

In 2011, around 9,100 people who lived in villages in Fukushima evacuated to Koriyama. Many of them have taken root and stayed.

About 10,000 inhabitants of Koriyama decided after meltdown to leave.

Those who stayed have built resilience to repeated setbacks.

"There is the disaster fatigue of these people hit by all these disasters," said Kyle Cleveland, a professor of sociology at the Temple University campus in Tokyo, who has written extensively on the Fukushima communities' response to the disasters Nuclear Crisis 2011.

"But I think it can provoke a sense of fatalism."

This feeling of resignation was felt at the Takase Elementary School in Koriyama, where about 400 people sought protection from the typhoon and more than 230 stayed on Monday.

Yukari Yoshinari, 22, who was there with her husband and her 2-month-old son, as well as her older sister and her family, was overwhelmed but stoic about the flooding of her home.