Note: these damage reports are true and final at the time of writing this article (October 17th)
As typhoon season was ending and Japan was slowly crossing into autumn, a monster storm on the horizon raised concerns as never before in Tokyo. The typhoon no.19, also known as “Hagibis” (meaning “speed” in Tagalog), was considered the strongest and most destructive storm to hit the Kanto area in the last 60 years. To make matters worse, it came during full moon, with ocean levels already high, and just a month after the destructive typhoon Faxai that battered Chiba and left thousand of home without roofs and without power.
Japan took warning seriously, and residents stocked up on non-perishable food, leading to empty shelves in supermarkets and convenience stores.
— lindokorchi (@lindokorchi) October 11, 2019
Hagibis made landfall on the afternoon of October 12th (Saturday) 2019. Before that, a tornado hit Chiba, a rare occurrence in Japan. As the typhoon’s rains and winds kept intensifying, an earthquake struck Chiba and could be felt all over Tokyo, making many fear more landslides as a result.
Japan being a very well-prepared country for disaster and Japanese residents taking a lot of precautions made all the difference, however there was still a lot damage. People in Tokyo woke up to clear sunny skies on October 13th, but soon reports of damage started coming in, reminding many of them how lucky they’ve been.
Here is the aftermath of typhoon Hagibis, as reported so far.
— ＮＨＫ生活・防災 (@nhk_seikatsu) October 16, 2019
Typhoon Hagibis caused more than 7 million people to be urged to evacuate due to floods and landslides, from Shizuoka, through Kanagawa, Tokyo, Chiba, Saitama, and even all the way up to Nagano, Iwate and Fukushima. As of October 16th, there were roughly about 4 400 evacuees around Japan.
According to the NHK, as of October 17th, there are 74 dead in the wake of the typhoon, and 11 people are still missing. Most of the casualties are in Fukushima (27 people), Kanagawa (14) and Miyagi (14). There are also about 224 people injured across all prefectures.
As Japan continues to assess the extent of the damage caused by Typhoon Hagibis, here's what we know so far about the wettest typhoon to impact the country since records began: https://t.co/py7GnLHVFE #Hagibis #台風19号 @RMS pic.twitter.com/or4YBRCjgM
— James Cosgrove 🏴 (@MrJamesCosgrove) October 15, 2019
Due to flooding, winds and landslides, there was a lot of property damage caused by Hagibis. It is being reported that more than 13 000 homes were in some affected by the typhoon, of which more than 1 100 houses were partially or completely demolished. According to the Government reports on October 16th, 12 000 homes were still without electricity and more than 116 000 homes without water supply. Houses in Nagano,Tochigi, Shizuoka and Saitama have suffered the most damage.
There were 146 mudslides reported and more than 55 rivers have overflown across several prefectures battered by Hagibis. Residents are still being rescued, and both government help and volunteers are flocking to help people clean the mud. There is danger of diseases due to the mud and water, so everyone is urged to be careful and protect themselves accordingly.
Info of Disaster Relief Operation
12th Artillery Unit(Utsunomiya) carried out mud and muddy equipment removal activities from hospitals, schools and nursing homes in Tochigi today. #台風１９号 #栃木 https://t.co/esnqpoqavs
— Sgt.I (@1BpIDRT3ttAWxJ8) October 15, 2019
People who want to donate money, can choose a prefecture and donate, via this website, among other ways.
In addition to homes, there was extensive damage to public buildings and shops too. However, the old wooden houses have suffered the most damage, with the elderly being the group most at risk.
Seven Hokuriku Shinkansens submerged in water in railway sidings in Nagano city 😰 These kinds of railway facilities are often built on cheap, industrial land that tends to be low lying. #Hagibis #台風19号 https://t.co/eZfxJVyEDy
— Tokyo Outsider 🌏 🇪🇺 (@tokyo_0) October 13, 2019
Japan’s transport system took all precautions for the typhoon, with JR and metro services announcing in advance they will stop all service by noon on October 12th. However, there is unavoidable damage along the train tracks from fallen trees, mudslides, floods etc. Most train lines in Tokyo started operating on October 13th afternoon, but those that suffered major damages need more time to recover.
According to JR East’s website, the Chuo Main Line will be suspended until the end of the month.
“We expected that the complete restart of the operation of all the line of Chuo Main Line (between Takao and Ostuki) will be around the end of October. The train operation of express trains including Azusa, Kaiji, Fujikaiyu, Hachioji, and Ome will be suspended until the restart of all lines operations.”
Moreover, damaged Hakone Tozan Railway in the popular destination Hakone is expected to take months to recover, putting a dent in the tourism revenue that is usually high in autumn. The lines to Nikko and Kawaguchiko also suffered damage and will be suspended at least until October 18th 2019.
— JR東日本【新幹線】運行情報 (公式) (@JRE_Super_Exp) October 13, 2019
JR East also reports that one third of the shinkasen bullet trains used on the Hokuriku line connecting Tokyo and Kanazawa, or 120 cars in total, were damaged by flooding and will have to be scrapped, causing an estimated loss of 300 million yen.
In addition, all domestic flights were cancelled during the typhoon, as well as international flights. In order to avoid airport crowding as was the case during Faxai, some incoming flights had to be cancelled or postponed for several days after the typhoon. This also resulted in major economic loss for airports, airlines and passengers. It is estimated that 84 international flights were cancelled, affecting 13 399 people, and 297 domestic flights, affecting 52 500 people.
Faxai caused estimated economic losses of up to 5 billion Japanese Yen, with homes in Chiba still struggling to get recover from it, when Hagibis hit the country. In comparison, last year’s typhoon Jebi was estimated to have caused more than 12 billion dollars damage. The government warns that recovery will be slow and consequences prolonged, and losses are yet to be estimated. On October 16th, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that Japan will dip into its reserves in the fiscal 2019 budget and take 710 million yen to be used for disaster relief.
— ラグビーワールドカップ (@rugbyworldcupjp) October 13, 2019
Many volunteers are heading to help the areas struck by the disaster. One prominent story was that of Canadian rugby fans in Iwate, who joined the cleanup. The Canada vs. Namibia match scheduled for October 13th was cancelled due to typhoon Hagibis.
Another heart-warming story making the rounds is the Japanese company offering to recover data from computers, tablet etc that have been damaged in the typhoon, FOR FREE. They say that data usually holds dear memories and they want to do their best to save them. See their Facebook post below and contact them or spread the word.