6,600 Noto Quake Survivors Spread Across 230 Shelters; Authorities Eye Consolidation Into Official Facilities

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A shelter in Nanao, Ishikawa Prefecture, photographed on Thursday

About 6,600 people are still living in temporary shelters in Ishikawa Prefecture, even as Friday marked two months since a powerful earthquake struck the Noto Peninsula and surrounding areas on New Year’s Day.

The figure comprises those living in shelters that were officially designated as such before the disaster, and also those taking shelter in ad hoc facilities — including at least one group of people living in a vinyl agricultural greenhouse.

The 6,600 figure represents about 20% of the people who were reported to be in shelters immediately after the earthquake. But there are still about 230 temporary shelters, about 60% of the peak.

Post-quake reconstruction efforts are fully underway and more and more workers are needed. Amid such a situation, reorganizing shelters is an issue and there are also moves to consolidate relief supply distribution points.

On Friday, the Wajima municipal government in Ishikawa Prefecture, which had been delivering relief supplies to ad hoc shelters with the support of Self Defense Forces personnel, halted such deliveries. The city appointed 16 officially designated shelters in the city as relief supply distribution points, and residents are asked to come those places to receive supplies.

In the Nagaimachi district of the city, designated shelters were so crowded just after the earthquake that some neighbors took shelter in a vinyl greenhouse. Now, 10 people from four households are living there and had been receiving supplies such as food and heating oil twice a day from the municipal government.

A 69-year-old man in the group said: “I have to discuss what to do with everyone. We need to support each other.”

According to the city, there are about 1,700 people living in 27 designated shelters, which include schools. About 260 people are living in 29 ad hoc shelters, including community center buildings.

“We would like to consolidate evacuees into designated shelters in a gradual manner,” a municipal government official said, explaining that consolidating relief supply distribution points is a preliminary step toward the consolidation of evacuees. The measure is also based on the assumption that the number of personnel dispatched from other municipalities to quake-affected areas will be reduced in the future. The municipal government also wants to be able to secure enough workers for reconstruction work and improvement of living conditions, such as restoring water supplies.

The municipal government of Nanao, also on the Noto Peninsula, has already consolidated its designated shelters. While there were initially 35, there are now just 19.