Quake Evacuees Start Moving into First Completed Temporary Housing Complex in Wajima; Govt Still Constructing More Units

The Yomiuri Shimbun
An evacuee, right, looks at the temporary housing complex unit in Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture she is moving into on Saturday.

WAJIMA, Ishikawa — Evacuees started moving into temporary housing units built in Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture, on Saturday, just over a month after a powerful quake devastated the city and its surrounding areas on New Year’s Day.

This marked one step forward for evacuees toward the rebuilding of their lives because this is the first temporary housing complex to have evacuees move in since the Noto Peninsula Earthquake struck.

Fifty-five evacuees from 18 households are moving into 18 units, which were built in the central part of Wajima as a relief measure by the prefectural government. While about 10,000 houses throughout the city still lack water supply, the residents of the housing complex have a useable bath and a toilet at each unit thanks to a water storage tank and a purifying chamber on the premises.

The evacuees received keys for their units from 9 a.m. at the municipal government office. The 18 households were selected by a committee led by the deputy mayor through giving priority to residents whose houses suffered severe damage from the disaster or families with elderly members and young children, according to the city government.

A 76-year-old woman who received a key for her unit said she had taken shelter at an evacuation center since her house burned down following the quake. “Now I feel a bit relieved,” she said. “I can use a bath [at my unit]. I really appreciate that I can use [running] water.”

The prefectural government has started construction of 548 temporary housing units in Wajima, including the completed 18 units, although the municipal government has received 4,100 applications for moving into temporary housing.

However, construction is challenging because it is hard to secure suitable locations in this hilly city. The plot on which the first 18 units have been built is one of the few flatlands available in Wajima, but the location is also projected to be inundated in the event of a tsunami. Therefore, the structure has been elevated by being placed on concrete blocks.

“We will improve living conditions [for evacuees] as soon as possible, in order to meet their desire to stay in their hometowns,” a prefectural government official said.