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Wednesday, 10 September 2014

More than 90,000 still living in makeshift housing as buildings deteriorate

An elderly woman pushes a cart at a temporary housing complex in Iwanuma, Miyagi Prefecture, on Wednesday.

 Sep 10, 2014 

More than 90,000 people still live in temporary housing in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, three and a half years after the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami devastated the region.
About 80 percent of prefabricated homes remain occupied, due to delays in the construction of municipal housing for disaster-affected people.
Keeping makeshift facilities as residences is becoming more difficult as their condition deteriorates.
Officials with the Iwate Prefectural Government who inspected two temporary housing buildings in the coastal city of Kamaishi in August found damage to the surface of weather-beaten wooden supports used in foundations, because they had not been weather-treated.
The supports were reinforced with steel foundation posts, while deformed wooden entrance steps were replaced. The inspections were conducted to estimate the cost and time needed for full repairs.
According to a nonprofit organization in Fukushima Prefecture, rain leaks into windbreak rooms outside the front doors of some temporary housing.
The government of the Miyagi coastal city of Ishinomaki included costs for repairs of moldy temporary housing in a supplementary budget for fiscal 2014, compiled in June. Some residents reported widening gaps in the structures of their rooms, a city official said, adding: “Such makeshift facilities have simple structures and the expected service life is unclear.”
A senior Iwate prefectural official in charge of housing said that the inspections in August found that rain and snow had damaged the exterior of some temporary housing units.
The Miyagi Prefectural Government plans to launch similar inspections by the end of this year in order to extend the service life of temporary facilities through repairs and renovations.
“Although there is no immediate danger of collapses, we will take measures soon,” one official said.
As of the end of July, the occupancy rate of temporary housing stood at 79 percent in Iwate, 80 percent in Miyagi and 78 percent in Fukushima Prefecture.
By contrast, only 12.7 percent of planned public housing for disaster-affected people had been completed in Iwate, while the rates were lower in Miyagi, at 9.8 percent, and Fukushima, at 7.3 percent.
In principle, disaster-affected people are allowed to live in temporary housing for up to two years. The maximum period was extended to five years in Iwate and Miyagi under a special measure for areas hit by large-scale disasters, and until the end of March 2016 in Fukushima.
After the January 1995 earthquake in western Japan, those affected in or near Kobe were allowed to live in temporary housing for up to five years.
This time, municipalities are trying to take early measures as temporary housing may need to be used for longer than five years.
Source: Japan Times
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