Disaster Measures (Part 2)
From “Kazenoko Letter” No.405 - October 2011

 From Sep. 2nd to 4th, a sluggish typhoon brought big floods to various regions of Japan. Today I’ll talk again about disaster measures. Every time a big disaster that ncludes earthquake damage occurs, evacuation centers are necessary. It’s been a half year since the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11th. I feel very sorry that people still live in evacuation centers. However, people who can continue to live in evacuation centers for such a long time are healthy. It’s difficult for the elderly, people with disabilities, pregnant women, and sick people. The media hasn’t reported about these people, but how are they doing?

 We had conducted relief operations for a long time when the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake happened. The earthquake occurred on January 17th, during a cold spell. I keenly felt the elderly and people with disabilities suffered from life in refuge in a big school gym. At one gym, the bathroom was far, so some elderly people put their futon in the cold hallway near the bathroom and slept there.

 And many people with intellectual disabilities inherently avoid people, so over time it becomes more and more difficult for them to live with strangers in a big school gym. Eventually, some people with intellectual disabilities ended up living in their car with their family.

 After the earthquake, we raised the problems we had experienced at these simple disaster centers to various institutions. Whether it reflects Osaka City’s government or not, they are trying to put in new measures. Social welfare facilities will be designated as an evacuation center, and accept the elderly, people with intellectual disabilities, pregnant women, infants, and sick people. It is groundbreaking that Osaka City focuses on measures which were not covered during the Great East Japan Earthquake and tries to implement them.

 It is reasonable for social welfare facilities to take on the role of helping social vulnerable people who have difficulty sleeping in a wide open space. I hope people who work in the field of social welfare are more self-aware and take this opportunity to take on more responsibility.

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