KURE, Hiroshima--Surrounded on three sides by mountains and facing the Seto Inland Sea, this city served as a secret base for construction of the World War II battleship Yamato.

Now, however, those topographical features are hampering efforts of local residents to resume their normal lives in the aftermath of torrential rains and heavy flooding.

Landslides caused by the flooding have cut off this port city of about 220,000 from the outside world.

Not only are the major roads out of the city to the east and west impassable, but also the JR Kure Line, which connects the city with neighboring Hiroshima city, is still inoperable.

Many gas stations began limited rationing from July 7. However, with no tanker trucks entering the city to replenish gasoline supplies, some filling stations have had to temporarily close from about July 9.

One gas station in front of JR Kure Station posted a sign on the morning of July 10 that said fuel would only be sold to emergency vehicles.

One road to the outside world was opened from July 9, allowing for traffic to pass over a mountain for the first time in three days and enter the neighboring town of Kumano to the north.

That has allowed some gas stations to reopen their doors, but the 47-year-old manager of one station said there was no indication of what time during the day the tanker truck would show up.

Normally, the filling station can provide a total of 10 kiloliters of gasoline and light gas oil, but the owner said, "Even with a 10-liter limit to each customer, I don't know if we have enough for 200 cars."

Supermarkets and convenience stores in Kure also have bare shelves.

An outlet of a major convenience store chain received a delivery of goods on the morning of July 9, but only received about 150 rice balls and a dozen or so "bento" box lunches. The only fresh produce delivered was bananas.

The owner of the outlet said product delivery would return to normal that day, but on the following morning, the shelves for bento and fresh produce were still empty.

A major inconvenience for local residents is a lack of water. Flooding may have affected the tunnel through which water for the local water supply flows from the Otagawa river of Hiroshima city into Kure and Etajima island, which lies off the coast.

Kure is home to the Maritime Self-Defense Force's Kure Naval Base. On the morning of July 9, the Delta gate to the base, which is normally not open to the public, was opened and local residents drove onto the base. They came to take baths in one of four MSDF ships anchored at the base.

A sign that said there was a three-hour wait to take a bath did not dissuade any of those who came to the base.

Not only the baths, but laundry facilities on the ships were also made available to the public. Water stations were also set up within the base.

A 36-year-old homemaker from Kure who came to the base with three family members said, "I had to wait for four hours at the water station in my neighborhood. Here, we can take a bath and even do laundry while filling up our water tanks."

The cutting off of water has affected about 100,000 households in the cities of Kure and Etajima.

With the trains stopped and major roads closed, the only transport option available are the ferries from Kure Port to Hiroshima Port. Some Kure residents have rode the ferry to do their shopping in Hiroshima or to temporarily evacuate their homes.

One 57-year-old homemaker from Kure who arrived at Hiroshima Port by ferry on the morning of July 9 said, "Food has completely disappeared from stores in Kure. The JR line is not running and we cannot use our cars. I have been saved by being able to use the ferry."

(This article was written by Yasuyuki Sasaki and Toshinari Takahashi.)