Just 20 minutes away, the dregs of a typhoon dubbed Tropical Storm Etau from Korea brought extreme wind and rain to eastern Japan. The Japanese government advised nearly 3 million people to evacuate. Landslides dragged cars off the roadside and split highways, while flooding forced townspeople to seek refuge on rooftops. Houses floated away, toppled over like dollhouses thrown about in a small child’s temper tantrum. Cars drifted about, half-full of muddy water and helicopters roamed around searching for people and pets to rescue. Seven people were killed, 15 lost, and 27 injured. People lost their homes, their livelihoods, and their loved ones.
The Japanese Defence Force went from house to house to rescue those trapped.
Meanwhile, in our small town in Kamikawa-machi, wind whistled and rain poured but we suffered no ills from the weather except for moldy chicken feed. The children at Sunnyside Up! Elementary fussed and squirmed uncomfortably in their seats, jumpy from not having been able to run around outside during recess for three days in a row.
We were lucky. Every afternoon, there’s a car and announcer who calls out neighbourhood or weather warnings. They didn’t prospect bad weather for our area, except for strong wind and rain. Apparently, in all of the five years that my coworker Alyssia has lived here, there has never been flooding in the surrounding area this bad. It rained more in one day than in all of September. It is incredible how, in such a small and condensed country, one area can become so devastated, while the other parts suffer only the mildest bad weather.
I feel guilty. Guilty that I didn’t suffer, and guilty that I have accepted societal conditioning to read the news and watch events unfold on the television as if they were mildly unpleasant fiction. I watched the news with little understanding that night. It held little real importance for me and was only a thing that happened to have occurred nearby. I had no idea how the typhoon had devastated the eastern area, until now, having done some research. I am going to try to be more empathetic, aware, and involved in the real world now.
It has been a few days since the flooding, and except minor earthquake that shook Tokyo in the early morning, the weather has been gentle. It completed a 180° and today is a gloriously sunny day, with sweet baby blue skies. Here in Kamikawa, it is as if the typhoon never even happened. You can see clear to Mt. Asama in the distance, with puffy cumulus clouds floating gently above. One of the students said she saw a rainbow above her house.
We are lucky.