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Proper flood evacuations in the virus era pose major challenges

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Japan is entering the rainy and typhoon season, when the nation is often hit by floods.

This year, the challenge of responding to floods will be further complicated by concerns about the new coronavirus. The concept of “self-help,” which in this context means protecting one’s own life, is more important than ever under the current circumstances.

We all need to reassess the disaster risks around us and prepare for possible emergency situations.

When an evacuation order was issued in March in Shibecha, a town in Hokkaido, in response to torrential rain, local residents flocked to a gym operated by the municipal government and designated as an emergency evacuation center.

When local government officials guided the evacuees to locations within the facility to ensure sufficient distancing between people, the gym could accommodate only about 200 evacuees even though it is designed to accept 500 in such an emergency.

The situation forced the municipal government to hastily open another evacuation site.

Usually, space given to each person in an evacuation center is slightly less than 2 square meters. If a distance of 2 meters has to be secured........

© The Asahi Shimbun