The typhoon has pretty much died out in my area — there are just some lingering rain showers passing through now and then. But the damage was close to home. My part of town didn’t suffer any damage — I walked around for an hour during a clear spell this afternoon — but barely two miles away, as I said earlier, one of my schools is underwater. In fact, it looks as if it rises out of a lake, when just the other day there were sports fields and parking lots. One of my teachers sent me this picture of the school a few hours ago:
Luckily, all of the students were told to stay home, so to my knowledge, no one was hurt, but I don’t know how long it will take for the school to recommence. A lot of schools in Western Ibaraki (which was hardest hit) are closed tomorrow even if they weren’t damaged because it is questionable that trains will start running anytime soon. And many students here rely on trains; yellow school buses are purely American.
Now, though, the big story is Joso, Ibaraki, a town situated 25 miles from me. One of the river banks crumbled this morning, and the Kinugawa river — swollen from too much rain — washed away whole houses in the ensuing flood. I watched on TV as people were rescued from their rooftops. I heard helicopters flying overhead all day, racing towards Joso. The whole scene rang reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina, yet this time it was much more tangible for me due to its close proximity. This photo clearly isn’t mine, but it’s one of the images that I’ve seen repeated all day:
I realize that I was a little light-hearted about the typhoon in my last post, but it isn’t really something to joke about. People lost their everything in this disaster, and even though I was completely safe, some people were not. I was deeply touched, however, by the stream of emails and messages that I received throughout the day from fellow Ibaraki JETs — some who know me, and some who only really know my name. Disasters like this are tragic, but they also make you realize how blessed and supported you are, even when you feel a little alone.