Photo/IllutrationMuch of Sodegaura, Chiba Prefecture, remains without electricity on Sept. 12 because of damage caused by Typhoon No. 15. (Kazutaka Eguchi)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

Frustration, anger and fears of death are rising among residents in southern Chiba Prefecture over delays in restoring power and recovering from other damage caused by Typhoon No. 15.

However, the government’s latest estimates indicate that their hardships will continue for at least another week.

“Within the next couple of days, some areas will have power fully restored,” Isshu Sugawara, the newly appointed minister of economy, trade and industry, said at a news conference on the morning of Sept. 13. “But in some other areas, it will take another week or a little longer.”

The typhoon that hit the Kanto region on Sept. 9 toppled transmission lines that caused a widespread blackout in Chiba Prefecture, damaged buildings and blew trees and other debris onto transportation routes.

According to TEPCO Power Grid Inc., a subsidiary of Tokyo Electric Power Co., electricity was restored on Sept. 12 in several cities, including Chiba, Yachiyo and Inzai. But restoration work has been difficult in the southern part of the prefecture.

About 198,600 houses in the prefecture remained without electricity as of 10 a.m. on Sept. 13, TEPCO Power Grid said.

According to the prefectural government, about 27,000 houses in the prefecture had no water supply as of 7 a.m. on that day.

The number actually increased by about 4,000 from the previous morning. After electricity was restored in some areas, water usage immediately surged, causing the water supply to be cut off again.

“I want to ask TEPCO and the government, ‘What in the world are you doing?’” said a man in his 50s who lives in a small mountainous community in Futtsu, a southern city on the Boso Penninsula.

Conditions for residents in southern areas of the prefecture have worsened day by day. Even basic chores are now challenging, if not impossible.

Fallen utility poles have blocked the only road that connects the Kanaya community in Futtsu and a port and a railway station. Around 20 people from 11 households have been isolated for more than four days without power or water supplies.

“All we’re asking is to move the poles out of the way, but they haven’t even done that yet,” the man said.

The residents have been forced to take a 10-kilometer roundtrip to buy food and water.

“No electricity and no water. I walk all the way to go shopping almost every day,” the man said. “I don’t know how much longer I can physically keep doing this.”

Neither the emergency broadcast system nor radio waves for mobile phones can reach the area. Their only sources of information are newspapers and radio broadcasts.

Things are much graver for elderly people who live alone in the community.

Yukio Ikeda, 70, said he has survived on a stockpile of instant noodles since the disaster.

“We the elderly would die if we walk as much as 10 kilometers,” he said. “Do we have no choice but to die?”

Ikeda is also upset with the responses from TEPCO and the government. “They are so naive about the fact that this is a catastrophic disaster.”

He wanted to send a message to the government: “Dispatch the Self-Defense Forces immediately and help us as soon as possible. Drop some food by helicopter. Do something, anything, please.

“Mountain areas like our community are always the last to be saved,” he said angrily.