July 7th 2018: A Memoir of a Victim of the Devastating Rainfall in Mabi, Okayama

                                                         Translated by Sharyo Kawabe (川辺車輛)

Thank you for visiting. I’m Zerofagi (ゼロファジ).

I feel terribly sorry for the people who were killed in the disastrous flood occurred in Western Japan. And I sincerely hope that the people left missing will be found safe as soon as possible.

I went through various experiences in the disaster this time. I must be more and more busy from now on in doing lots of things like clearing up my house, dealing with sorts of procedures and so on. My car was sunk in the water to be broken, and it became difficult to move around freely these days. Fortunately, I’m with enough facilities to upload this article and can manage to spare time for writing, so I’m leaving this memoir here about what I experienced, before my memory fades to lose what shouldn’t be lost. In recalling the disaster and even the days before, I feel it is highly serious that I was to become a victim of a disaster nevertheless I was in Okayama at the time, which was long believed to be a town where disaster never occur. It will be a great pleasure for me when my notes help somebody sometime. This is not a short work but I’m really glad if you read through.

Let me add before the main subject that this story is composed of not only objective facts but my own viewpoints. So the information in this story may not always be accurate. Some of the parts may not be chronologically right, because it’s better to explain the situation. Or sometimes it’s because my memory is not clear. So please keep this in your mind.

1.Before July 7

It was from July 6th to 7th that the disaster was caused because of the heavy rain and burst of embankments of rivers. But there were some signs of it before in Okayama. So it is good to start with the situation before the day.

It was raining in Okayama from July 3rd and especially the rain was heavy in 5th and 6th. I went to work by car on both days and I passed by the Oda River that burst later (and it showed the first sign at the time...).
The level of the Oda River was rather high at 7 a.m. on 6th. I remember that, seeing the water level, I wondered how high it would go up at night as the rain was forecast to be getting heavier.

”I’m going to go to the match against Tokyo Verdy.”
09:43 pm – July 5th, 2018.

I’m a supporter of a J League club, Fagiano Okayama. I was going to go to Tokyo to watch the game between Tokyo Verdy and Fagiano Okayama that would be held on July 7th. I planned to see some people before and after the game as well and prepared for the meeting, but given the heavy rain on 6th, it might cause some trouble in moving to Tokyo.

”Do Shinkansens run tomorrow...?”
12:32 pm – July 6th, 2018.

According to JR West, Sanyo Shinkansen stopped frequently because of the rain, and especially west of Okayama, like Hiroshima and Fukuoka, was strongly affected.

And from the daytime when I was working to the night, my phone got many Area Mails, which gave urgent information about disasters. I believe that there were not a few people who became more and more confirmed that it was not usual rain, every time the piercing Area Mail ringtone started, which made one wary. Okayama was always safe in any typhoons or earthquakes. So such frequent Area Mails were itself unusual. I believed that “Okayama is okay this time as well” so strongly that I wasn’t alert to the rain. But I have to say that the assumption is no more valid after the disaster.

”Optimism against disasters in Okayama was more serious than I could imagine, which was brought with so-called “the safety myth” that no typhoon ever caused serious damage here. No one did expect such a disastrous flood.”
08:29 am – July 8th, 2018

According to Kurashiki city:

A disaster headquarters was set to prepare for a landslide on July 5th, 2018, 11 pm. No serious damage has been reported as of July 5th, 11 pm.

So at first, the city was on the alert for a landslide in the heavy rain. Around noon on July 6th, Kurashiki city said:

Kurashiki city issues an “Evacuation Preparation and Evacuation Start for the elderly and the like” to the area around mountains in Kurashiki city at 11:30 am today because a risk of a landslide is increasing.

Around the time when Area Mails about a risk of a landslide started to be sent, my wife and daughter (1 year and 11 months old) were at home. My house in Mabi is between a mountain and the Oda River, but I thought that it’s okay because the mountain was not so big and enough distant from my house. But the landslide in Hiroshima in 2014 crossed my mind so that I became uneasy, so I and my wife decided to be alert for the rain and to keep contact with each other. The reason why the landslide in Hiroshima sprang to my mind was there is a business acquaintance of mine who suffered from it.
(NEVER ignore this Evacuation Start for the elderly and the like if you have such a person in your family or friends)

2.The Geography of Mabi Cho and around the Evacuation Site

Let’s see the geography of Mabi cho and around the evacuation site here. Mabi faces the big Takahashi River on the west and the Oda River on the south, so this town is placed in the area where the rivers form like mirrored “L”. If you cross the Takahashi River and go east, you can get to Soja city and Kurashiki city, and if you go across the Oda River and head south, you can reach Kurashiki city. The residential area is in a plain and there is a mountain on the north, so the more you go north, the higher the altitude becomes. My family evacuated to Okada elementary school, which was on the east from our house and was the closest evacuation site.

3.Getting Home and a Start of Evacuation

After finished work in Kurashiki, I returned home in Mabi a little after 9 pm, July 6th. In some areas, the road had already been flooded because of the heavy rain, and I couldn’t see any more which road was flooded.
As I had to use the bridge over the Oda River on my way back, I wanted to see how high the water level was, but it was too dark to check it. Though I was indeed anxious about it as I knew how high it had been in the morning, I didn’t see around closely because there was no place to stop my car. I also thought of the danger to come close to a river in heavy rain, as I knew that there were lots of people taken their lives in flooded rivers.

After coming back home, I took a bath and had dinner. I always drink at nights before my days off, so I drunk a can of beer at dinner this day too.
(I can say it’s also a misjudgment of mine...)
It was a painful mistake that I got drunk more than I expected maybe because I was tired after work. As I was to go to Tokyo the next day, I needed to prepare for the travel. To tell the truth, I got three days off to go to Tokyo and was already in mood of holidays, so I felt like “It’s a holiday! Gonna go to Tokyo! Three days off!” I didn’t think at all of what happened later.

Incidentally, according to Kurashiki city:

Kurashiki city issues an “Evacuation Recommendation” to the area around mountains in Kurashiki city at 7:30 pm because the risk of a landslide is increasing..

I didn't notice this evacuation recommendation, but my wife had started to prepare for evacuation to some extent before I came back home as they expected the rise of the river and it was a great help for us all. My wife gathered the important things like a bankbook together to make it easy to take them out with us, and it was really helpful after the disaster passed. Even if your house was sunk in the water, if you bring the important things with you, you don’t need to fetch them from the house in great hurry. You may not be able to move freely after a disaster, so it will be good if you can spare time.
(When you need to evacuate, you must prepare thoroughly, not partially.)

I was gathering information about the level of the river on the Internet in my room after dinner with the beer. I was anxious about the Shinkansen next day in the heavy rain. My wife told me “Be ready for going out in case we need to evacuate”, so I changed into clothes for going out, not pajamas, and checked the hazard map around my house again.

”It’s my first time to consult a hazard map this serious...”
09:56 pm – July 6th, 2018.

Before long, an Evacuation Recommendation was issued.

”Oh no, an evacuation recommendation was issued.”
10:04 pm – July 6th, 2018.

According to Kurashiki city,

We issue an “Evacuation Recommendation” as follows on July 6th, 10 pm, because the level of the Oda River is sharply rising.

(When an Evacuation Recommendation is issued, you should recognize it as a final warning.)

I was reluctant to leave as I was in mood of a holiday, excited with the trip, and drunk a little, but I couldn’t ignore the Evacuation Recommendation.
I was still optimistic about the situation at the time, but I clearly remember that I got a shock with the comment, “I haven’t experienced such a thing—the extraordinary rise of the water of the Takahashi River—in these forty years here,” on SNS by my Fagiano-supporter-friend who lives in the area next to ours.
Not the warnings nor the recommendation, but this comment affected me the most.
I’m not a local resident so I didn’t know so much about the area, but I could assume it’s not a trivial matter from the comment by a local person. It’s been already an event that happens once or doesn’t happen at all in several decades and it might be a sign of a more terrible disaster. But it may be okay, I thought, and when nothing happens, I’ll go back home and head for the away game. I only need to endure the inconvenience tonight, I thought.
Then I woke my daughter up, and we moved by car to Okada Elementary school, which was the evacuation site, with my wallet and phone. I couldn’t drive a car as I was drunk, so I left my car in the garage in my house.
(My family members had clothes for a few days, but I didn’t have any.
It’s also a misjudgment. That carelessness caused by drinking...)
My wishful thinking prevented me from judging things appropriately. I didn’t think at all that the rain caused such a terrible disaster and I guessed, or hoped, that I could go to the game after a night in an evacuation site.
At the time, in a drunken condition, I imagined the future. I had a little child and my mother-in-law was with us this day. It might be hard if we needed to stay long in the evacuation site.
Two choices came into my head at the time.

One was to evacuate to the evacuation site, Okada Elementary school.
Another was to evacuate to my parents’ home in Kurashiki.

My parents’ home must be comfortable and have more room to relax than the evacuation site, I thought. We can charge our phones and also can use an air conditioner.
But we couldn’t use the route over the Oda River because of the drastic rise of water, so we had to go across the Takahashi River to get to Kurashiki from Mabi. I didn’t know how the Takahashi River was going at the time and wasn’t sure whether we could use the route or not. I came to know later that we could use it at the day, but anyway I didn’t have any evidence at the time. As we are reluctant to go the different way from the others, we chose to evacuate to Okada Elementary school.

”As a victim of the heavy rain, it’s important to know how high the water level is in each river. In my case, I had a chance to evacuate to my parental home, but I chose to evacuate to the evacuation site because I wasn’t sure about the condition of the river which I need to pass by to get to my parental home.”
10:22 am – July 7th, 2018.

I want to tell you an advice here on where to evacuate. We chose the public evacuation site, but if you have some people, like family, relatives and friends, who can give you a shelter, and also you can visit them safely, I recommend you to rely on them. To be frank, it’s really hard to stay in an evacuation site. You will be exhausted, both physically and psychologically, in the uncomfortable situation. And you cannot assume how long you have to stay there. The evacuation site might be overflowed when too many people gather together. It’s probable that you cannot get enough support because of lack of hands. I fully realized that we need not only to check a hazard map but to contact with people who can help you beforehand to arrange the things in case of emergency.

5.Evacuation to Okada Elementary School

Of course it was dark outside, and it was still raining, though it was not so heavy. On our way to the evacuation site by my wife’s car, the traffic was comparatively light, but just before we arrived at the school, the road got a little crowded. There were lots of people coming to the evacuation site at the same timing with us. I remember that I searched for another evacuation site in case this site was already full and we couldn’t be accepted. After a while, we could go into the elementary school.

The school ground, which was used as a parking lot, was nearly full when we arrived there at around 10:30 pm and we needed to park the car at a marginal space close to a gateway. Cars were coming one after another after us. Though there were some cars going out now and then, there was little space in the ground apart from a passage.

I want to reconfirm the geography around Okada Elementary School here.

The school is placed in a rather high ground. The path to the right from the ground leads to the main gateway and the load slopes down from here. The building to the left, where a statue of Kindaichi Kousuke stands, is a gym. Other than the ground, a parking lot beside the main entrance to the school building was used this day. And though I didn’t know at first, as I was ignorant of the evacuation site, it is said that some space behind Okada Kindergarten was open as a parking lot. If you go into the ground from the main gateway, this is the only way out.
(I didn’t even imagine that this lack of knowledge had great influence on the procedure later.)

Anyway, I entered in the list of evacuees at the gym, where the public office staff stayed, and I walked about in the school, looking for a toilet.

”I came to the elementary school to evacuate, but it’s very inefficient about the car parking as the cars are not parked orderly. There is a line of cars on a path to get their car parked.”
11:17 pm – July 6th, 2018.

I don’t know how efficiently people can arrange things in an emergency, but at least, not a little space was left unused, though cars were parked neatly to some extent.

And I want to tell you about the public office staff that helped us evacuees. I really appreciate their contribution for us in such a hard time without enough hands. It must have been really difficult to work flexibly in accordance with the increasing evacuees and changing circumstances. I’m really impressed with their efforts. And I really want to express my gratitude for the volunteer workers who helped us by distributing food and the like. Some of them were sufferers as well. I really, really thank you all.

In the evacuation site, gomoku-rice (Japanese-style pilaf) and rice balls were distributed, which we could cook easily only with hot water. I was surprised that they tasted unexpectedly good, but the point was, I gradually got tired of them as there were not many kinds of foods and I had them at every meals. In terms of drink, there was sufficient amount of water and tea in bottles, and I didn’t worry about it. But as we stayed in a car, we couldn’t see when foods were distributed. There were around 2,000 evacuees at the most, so it was natural that they couldn’t deliver the foods to each car, as there weren’t enough hands. Just then, in an evacuation site in Soja, breads were distributed to the evacuees, maybe because there was a bread plant around there. And, to tell the truth, I was envious of them because I was tired of the taste of foods I got. In addition, those breads were not emergency rations.
I think that the circumstances of Mabi area were responsible for the difficulty in food distribution and lack of hands. I’ll write about it later.

Around that time, according to Kurashiki city, special warning was issued as follows:

July 6th, 2018, 10:40 pm The Okayama Local Meteorological Observatory
Weather alert in Okayama Prefecture
【Special Warning (Heavy Rain)】Special Warning was issued to the whole northern part, Okayama area, Kurashiki area, Ikasa area, and Takahashi area. Be on the full alert for a landslide, inundation in the lowlands and flooding of rivers.

The disaster area was broad this time, and special warning was issued in other areas than Okayama one after another, but the warning was not so familiar to me that I didn’t know how serious it was.

”I didn’t actually realize how serious the special warning was. ”
6:39 am – July 7th, 2018.

I checked it later and found that special warning is issued when it is far more dangerous than the standards for the normal warning, and it is issued in the great emergence like the tsunami in the Great East Japan Earthquake. I think that there were few people who recognized that the danger of the rain was equivalent to that tsunami. I didn’t heard people talking about the danger in this viewpoint in the evacuation site.
(The emergence of special warning is equivalent to the tsunami in the Great East Japan Earthquake.)

5.A Night in a Car

Lots of people were getting rest in the gym, and the elderly and people with a baby were in classrooms. The others stayed in their own cars. We also spent time in our car because we were with our daughter and we could watch news on TV in it. Inside the car got inevitably hot by body heat, so we used an air-conditioner. Also we charged our phones with a charger we brought with us. After our daughter fell asleep, I stated to gather information. Smartphones were enormously helpful so that we could check the condition outside like how high the water was, tell others how we were, or kill time. Even only one smartphone can do great things.
(A smartphone is an absolute necessity at the time of a disaster.)
Inside the car was small but generally comfortable, and to secure personal space, a car was highly useful. It rather saved us from feeling stress. But the gas was running low as we kept the car idling. The gas was about half full at first, so it was obvious that we couldn’t keep the comfortable conditions long. It is also a fault that I didn’t think of refueling the car, though I expected that we needed to spend the night in the car.
(As I couldn’t have reoriented myself to evacuation and also was drunk, I failed to prepare sufficiently enough as I said above.)

I was in the car preparing for things as much as possible after I made contact with my parents and friends on the phone and SNS to inform that we were okay, when a outrageous sound of explosion came to us twice consecutively.

”What, there’s a sound of explosion...”
11:34 pm – July 6th, 2018.

”Was that a thunder?”
11:34 pm – July 6th, 2018.

”It doesn’t seem to be a thunder, but there’s a sound of explosion twice. What on earth happened...”
11:37 pm – July 6th, 2018.

I’ve experienced a chill when I heard the realistic bombing sounds in the film In This Corner of the World, and the sound of explosion this time was far beyond the ones in the movie. I felt that it should be within about 100m from there and I guessed at once lightning struck close by. But there was no sound or light of it. I felt it’s strange on second thought and checked SNS, and gradually I came to know that an aluminum plant near the Takahasi River exploded maybe because of flooding. Movies that shot the explosion were spread on SNS and the location or the cause of it was quickly confirmed from the background of the movie. It was amazing to see how people clarified the detail of the event on SNS. It was valuable experience to see the process.

And according to Kurashiki city:

Kurashiki city issued an “Evacuation Order” on July 6th, 11:45 pm, because the level of the Oda River is sharply rising.

The evacuation order is more urgent than the evacuation recommendation. It’s an order to evacuate immediately, or, if you cannot, to take an action to protect yourself.
I remember that there were sirens and announcements from a disaster-radio(?) outside when the evacuation order was issued, but it was nearly impossible in the car to catch what was said outside. As it was still raining, I don’t think the informing sounds reached people in their house sufficiently.

In addition, as the parking lot in our evacuation site was already nearly full when the evacuation recommendation was issued, I wonder whether people, who started to evacuate by the evacuation order, could get room in the evacuation site. It might be difficult to get to the site for the people who were not familiar with the area and didn’t have a car navigation system. So it’s too late if you start to evacuate after the evacuation order. I’m strongly convinced that we cannot do things well enough if we don’t start evacuation at the evacuation recommendation.
This is the point I especially want to emphasize.
(You should recognize the evacuation recommendation and start evacuating.)

6.Flooding of the Oda River and the Burst in the Embankment of the Takama River

※If you want to know in detail about flooding and the burst in the embankment, please refer to the article by the expert. I’m not the one in this field.

According to the Okayama River Office and the Okayama Local Meteorological Observatory, at 00:30 am on July 7th:

The Oda River overflowed around Kurashiki city Mabi cho Yata (Level 5). Confirm the information from the municipalities immediately and take an appropriate disaster prevention action to secure your own safety.

The Oda River overflowed at last…
I recognized that the risk of the flood was rather high at 10:00 pm when the evacuation recommendation was issued, and it actually happened.

”Oh, the Oda River...”
0:48 am – July 7th, 2018.

”It’s probable neighbourhood of my house is flooded...”
1:40 am – July 7th, 2018.

”Finally I became a complete “victim” of the disaster…”
1:40 am – July 7th, 2018.

All I could do was to pray that our house wasn’t sunk in the water, as I couldn’t see at all where was flooded and how serious it was. I hoped again and again that the damage on our house was not serious, but I had heard of that the rain would fall strongly again form midnight to daybreak, and it seemed that the water level of the Oda River wasn’t likely to drop. I resigned myself at this time to loss of property in my house. What I brought were only my wallet and phone as I treated the matter lightly when I left home. Finally I became a complete “victim” of the disaster…
Until then, I was observing the circumstances, expecting it to be a conversation piece later. But I apparently became a victim and that changed things.
I changed my attitude to remember the things seriously, as I was a victim of a disaster in Okayama, “A Land-of-No-Disaster”.
(If you want to leave notes, it is useful to upload them on SNS because you can look back and put the things into shape with the posts.)

Additional information from Kurashiki city at 1:30 am said:

Kurashiki city issues an “Evacuation Order” as follows because the embankment of the Takama River got overflowed and the water from the Oda River is flowing northward.

The Takama River, which flows into the Oda River, flooded (and after that the embankment of it burst) and the water level of the Oda River rose so that the water started to flow into Mabi.

Let’s see the relationship between the Takama River and the Oda River on the map.

The Takama River is next to Makibi Special Support Education School and it flows from the north to the south and joins the Oda River.
The flood of the Oda River, which submerged our house under the water, occurred in a little western area from this Takama River. Firstly the river overflows in the west and the embankment burst in the east later, it seems.

Besides, though the exact time when it burst is unknown (it was found at around 6:50 am), the embankment burst for about 100m in the area about 3km upstream from the junction of the Oda River and the Takahashi River (south of Kawabejuku Staion?), and the backflow of the Oda River caused the tremendous stream of the water.

Therefore, the influx of the water into Mabi was from three points: the flood from the Oda River, the burst of the embankment of the Takama River and the burst around the area south of Kawabejuku Station. By the way, I didn’t know the burst of the last one at all. I watched it on the news in my parental home which we evacuated to later.

There were three things I wanted to know the most from 1:30 am, when I came to know that the water from the Oda River flew into Mabi area, until we left the evacuation site and moved to the safe relative’s house.
From where is the water coming?
How far did the water reach?
Which roads can we go safely?
Your action must be different, depending on whether you have this information or not. But we couldn’t get it before we left the evacuation site.

I couldn’t sleep at all in the car. Even though I was tired after work, I didn’t get sleepy maybe because I was too tensed up. And it’s also because I couldn’t stretch my legs in the small space. The sound of Area Mails rang continuously though the night and the alarm of the special warning rang again and again as the TV of the car navigation system was on. As I was startled every time those sound started, it was quite impossible to sleep. I thought of turning off the TV for some times, but as I didn’t want to miss any news, I turned down the volume and left it on.

I had to take care to prevent an economy class syndrome, as I was sitting in the car for a long time. By a curious coincidence, FIFA World Cup Russia was being held at the time and I remembered that an ex Japan national team player, Naohiro Takahara couldn’t play in the games of FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan because of an economy class syndrome. On SNS, people were excited at the game between Belgium and Brazil but I couldn’t watch it as I was worrying about the battery. How interesting game was it? I want to watch soccer games. I happened to think of soccer like this and I thought that it was too serious to worrying about the trip. It became really serious, I thought vacantly. I thoroughly sobered up long before and took the situation seriously, but I was regretfully thinking that, if I hadn’t been drunk, or if I had taken the situation seriously from the beginning, I could have judged things more appropriately. We cannot stay long in the uncomfortable condition with a little child and an elderly mother-in-law. I have to manage it. I spent the night in the car, thinking like that.

7.In the Morning, Information Gathering

I came to know that the area west to the elementary school was severely flooded, thanks to the pictures and movies uploaded on SNS by the people who evacuated to highland. As the day broke and the rain had subsided, I went out from the elementary school to gather information, paying the close attention to the surroundings. I remember very well that it was rather cold in a short-sleeved shirt as the temperature was low and wind was blowing.

”Going to gather information.”
5:35 am – July 7th, 2018.

It seemed that many of the people in Okada, the area around the elementary school, didn’t evacuate. Cars were parked at each house and, though it was early morning, lights were on in some houses. Probably, the situation was not so urgent around there that many of the people didn’t think of evacuation. As the flood was coming from the west of the elementary school, I headed to the west a little and walked to the main street on the south. In every irrigation canals I passed by, the water was flowing rapidly, and the footpaths between rice fields were sunk in the water. Avoiding the dangerous area and taking a pavement, I managed to get to the point where I could see the main street. This is the picture I took from there.

Though the picture is blurred because of camera shake, you can see the muddy blown water got this far. Some cars were running around this place, but some roads were like this and completely impossible to go through.
This is the picture I took from the same place, looking toward the main street.

You cannot see in this picture, but I saw the sign of the Minamoto Clinic to the right in the back. There was a big vehicle like bus of maybe the police or the fire station at the further back. I guess it was there to call attention. It seemed to be impossible to go around there as the area was apparently flooded, but I saw some cars going, regardless of the water. Then, they U-turned as the water prevented them form going further. Sirens were ringing everywhere. I thought it was dangerous to go further, and went back to the elementary school. The point I took these pictures is here on the map.

The first one was to the west from this crossroad.
The second one was to the south.

In a long shot, you can see that this point is rather close to the back of the Mabi Memorial Hospital, which was particularly broadcasted. The water reached around this area at 6 am.

After I came back to the elementary school, I resumed gathering information with my smartphone. And at the same time, I informed my conditions to my friends via SNS. Though I recognized that an extremely terrible thing happened, the disaster still didn’t come across as real to me as I didn’t see my house yet. In addition, I was sufficiently alert to the situation at the time, so I was calm in spite of the condition.

”Morning. We are all safe in an elementary school on highlands, but my house is in a flooded area, so it may be submerged up to second floor. I can’t imagine everything like a job and other private things in the future. But surprisingly, I’m calm. Well, I’ll do my best, cheering my family up.”
6:16 am – July 7th, 2018.

In the morning, some more people came to Okada Elementary School as evacuees.

”People are coming one after another by car to this elementary school, the evacuation site. I guess they found how serious it was to evacuate in case. The parking lot is full and cars here hardly move. ”
7:58 am – July 7th, 2018.

The ground had already almost been full, but as they managed to park their car, it became completely full around the gateway. Though we parked our car near the gateway, it was surrounded by other cars in the morning and it was impossible to move our car. But I saw many times that people, whose car could get the way out, went out from the elementary school by their car from morning to the daytime.

8.From Morning to the Daytime

It was raining this day, but not heavily. The temperature was low because of the rain and wind was blowing, so it was not uncomfortable. In the morning, I got information about the flooded town by SNS and news, but what I worried most was how high the water came in my house. I checked pictures and movies which showed the town one after another, trying to find one of my neighborhoods. I could see a movie showing the area about 30m from my house, and judging from it, the water definitely reached the second floor of my house.
I was prepared for that loss, and I accepted the situation.

Gas was running low as we kept our car idling through the night. At first, I guessed that we cold go back the next morning, but the water approached quite close to the evacuation site, so I guessed that it would take a long time before going back. It was sure that we run out of gas soon if we kept the car idling continuously. If we run out of gas, we cannot use the air-conditioner. In terms of phones, we could ask to charge them in the school even at the worst, but there was no air-conditioner. Even if it is raining, it must be hot in the daytime as July 7th is sweltering midsummer in Japan, I thought. We needed to save our energy to prepare for a long stay.
(It was caused by the mistake of mine that I didn’t refuel the car.)
So we got out of the car and stayed outside. The gym was full of people and it was said that there was no room in classrooms as well. So we spent time sitting around the shoe box in the school or the corridor outside of classrooms.
My daughter was running about cheerily as she came free from the small room of the car.

”My daughter (2 years old) is full of energy like a pixy after a good sleep. We couple couldn’t sleep well, so grossly tired.”
02:42 pm – July 7th, 2018.

It was apparent that, if we took our daughter to the gym, she would make noise and annoy the others who were sleeping. But I wanted to let her stay in a large space so that she wouldn’t feel stress. But if we do so, we need to follow her everywhere. We couldn’t just scold her to make her quiet and it was rather a hard time. Though she was so cute.
Her birthday is July 9th, which was 2 days later. She has already started to talk and understand things to some extent, so I and my wife decided to have a good birthday party this year for her. We ordered a cake shaped like Anpanman, who she liked very much, 2 months before at a cake shop in Mabi, but probably that shop also got damaged in this disaster. We really wanted to celebrate her birthday but it was too difficult in the situation. We were not sure whether we could leave the evacuation site before her birthday. What on earth will become of us? I have to manage the situation. I thought like that.

9.The Blockade of Frontage of Okada Elementary School

It had been a while since I went around gathering information at 6 am, so I went out to see the condition again. I was concerned about the water and wanted to have much information of the surroundings as possible. So I went down the slope in front of the school and took this picture.

Okada Elementary School, the evacuation site
July 7th 2018, 12:40 pm
The water reached about 20m down the slope in front of the school and it was unable to go further.

Surprisingly, the slope, which I had used without any trouble in the morning, was flooded and blocked. I saw a light truck pushily went down and the volume of the water at the time was about the same height as tires of the truck. I didn’t assume at all that the water reached this much in only 6 hours and a half.
It greatly shook me....
Surely the water wouldn’t come up this high to the elementary school, I thought, but the situation was ominous. In any case, we couldn’t go out by our car as it was surrounded by other cars, but we needed tentatively to prepare for a further emergency.
We had already experienced one. 

”The evacuation site is to be full of people and sometimes it’s difficult to move out. In some cased, you have to stay there for many days. It is helpful to think of where to park your car and to check the route to go out beforehand. The conditions of roads easily change to be dangerous in both floods and earthquakes.”
8:36 am – July 8th, 2018.

”I want to see as many aerial photos as possible. The rain has stopped but the water doesn’t recede and reached at the foot of the elementary school.”
12:08 am – July 7th, 2018.

What I wanted to know was still from where the water was coming and how far it had reached. We need to watch the landscape from the sky to know that. There were helicopters in the sky, but they were probably for rescue work. We couldn’t get much information in the evacuation site, and it was hard to know what we should do. As far as I remember, there was no announcement by a school PA system about the situation from the public office. They seemed to be really busy treating the evacuees of about 2,000 at the time, and it seemed that the number of the staff wasn’t increased.

Kurashiki city announced the evacuation information as necessary. There was the accurately totalized number of the evacuees in other areas in the information, but there was none of Mabi. It was 8 am on the next day, July 8th, when the accurate number of the evacuees in Mabi was on the evacuation information at last. It was at 3 pm on July 7th when the roughly totalized one appeared. I guess that it was because they were too busy to totalize the number in Mabi. There were many people going out or coming in before the frontage of the elementary school was blocked, and there was no announcement about whether people could go out or not. It may be normal in the evacuation site, but it was not like the staff took the lead in giving instruction to the evacuees about what to do.

As I said about the geography around Mabi area before, Mabi is placed inside of the mirrored “L” formed by the two rivers, so we need to go over the Takahashi River or the Oda River to come to Mabi from outside. Even if it was arranged that other staff members come to Mabi, they couldn’t come unless they went over the rivers.

”So the Takahashi River is really in trouble. Another evacuation recommendation was issued.”
00:16 am – July 7th, 2018.

As there was a risk of flood of the Takahasi River, it must have been too difficult to come to Mabi in the night. I guess that Mabi area was isolated, surrounded by the rivers. Even after the daybreak, unless the condition of the river and the road was checked, no one could be sure about the risk. So I assume that the public office couldn’t send supplies and the staff from outside. I want to say it again that the staff in the evacuation site was working calmly and sincerely for us. I didn’t expect more from them at all.

Here I want to talk about the information.
I said before that what I wanted to know the most was where the water was coming from and how far it had reached. And what do you think was the most reliable information about it in the evacuation site? The answer was, though it’s ironic, the crying of the people for rescue on SNS. Most of the posts said the address of the place and how emergent it was. I could see where it was by the address and by assuming how far it was from the river and where to the water reached, I could imagine the move of the water vaguely. As I wasn’t in a fatal condition, it was painful to use their cry for myself, but there was any other choice for us...

And I noticed about the age of the people crying for rescue. In many cases, there were the elderly in the groups.

”It seems that there were lots of elderly people who were reluctant to
Evacuate. They tend to think of perishing with their final abode if something disastrously terrible happens to it. But the people around them cannot leave them behind so that it’s a difficult problem.”
09:35 am – July 8th, 2018.

It must be okay if young people can lead them, but I guess that many of the elderly people were reluctant to evacuate to the unfamiliar place in such a heavily raining dark night. Maybe their optimistic view of the rain affected as well. We also thought that the water didn’t come up to the second floor. Then, I think that many of them may want to perish with their final abode if something disastrously terrible happenes to it. There were not so many elderly people in the evacuation site in comparison to the young, but I’ve heard of such feeling from the elderly. So even if there was someone who was able to lead them, there might be not a few people who chose to stay in the upper floor in their house. A friend of mine who evacuated in the different area said that it took long time to convince a grandmother to evacuate.
(The elderly people should start evacuation when an Evacuation Start for the Elderly and the like is issued. It may take long time to both decide their mind and get to the evacuation site.)

10.A Plan to Leave Okada Elementary School 1

In the afternoon, though it was cloudy, it’s hot in the midsummer climate. I hadn’t slept well but just had dozed the previous night, but as I didn’t feel tired or sleepy so much, I decided to take some actions. If we stay in the evacuation site for couple of days, all of my family members must be exhausted. And I want to settle down in some place with sufficient housing, food, and clothing, even if it was temporary. Possibly, it’s in a state of gradual decline. It is dangerous to move around the unfamiliar area in the night, and if I get exhausted, I just cannot move around at all. I though like that. If I try to take some actions, I must start before I get too tired or lose the chance. I have a little child and an old mother-in-law. But it is hard to walk around the rough road. And I cannot go far on foot. If I find a safe place in the neighborhood where people can come by car, I may call to ask someone to pick us up. So I thought and went out to find the route to leave the elementary school.

[To people in Soja]
”Is the Soja-Ohashi Bridge safe to pass?”
01:15 pm – July 7th, 2018.

The Soja-Ohashi Bridge is the large bridge over the Takahashi River and it is one of the routes from Mabi to the east to Soja city. Let’s check the point on the map.

When you see the map in a long shot, there must be Okada Elementary School at the lower left. It’s about 3km from the bridge to the elementary school. I thought that if it was safe, I could ask someone to come close to the elementary school by car so that we wouldn’t need to walk to the bridge. So I asked whether the Soja-Ohashi Bridge was safe on SNS, and a Fagiano-supporter-friend gave me an answer that it was okay as of 01:05 pm. (In addition, the post was with a picture taken from the point above the bridge! How nice!) It was confirmed that we could go to Soja city if we could get to the bridge. It was a great benefit!

Then, what I needed to do was to find a good place to meet up in somewhere between Okada Elementary School and the Soja-Ohashi Bridge. I didn’t want to spend a long time to get to the point, so I needed to find the shortest route. So there was no route but the one which started from the north of the elementary school and went along the mountain. Let’s check the area to the north of the elementary school on the map.

When you start from the elementary school and head to the Mabi Showa Kan at the upper right, you can see the Soja-Ohashi Bridge ahead of you. I decided to use this route to take the shortest one and walked around the elementary school to see whether I could walk out from the north of it. And I found that there was a route at the back of the school and I could keep away from the water at the frontage by it.
Okay, let’s get out by this route! I made up my mind like this and told my wife that I would look for the way and that we could ask for picking up if I found the safe point to meet up. She looked worried, so I promised her that I would never take a risk. Then I went out to find the way in a light rain, putting up an umbrella.

It was when I was going the rear of the school and passed by Okada Kindergarten that I found the parking lot on the north. It seemed that some of the evacuees used this lot and if we had parked our car here, we could have chosen both the road at the frontage (where the water came) and the one at the back.
(My lack of knowledge about the evacuation site was exposed like this.)
I got shocked at the very beginning, but there was no use feeling down. This expedition to find the route was a fight against time. So I resumed at a trot.

When I was going to the east, turning right at the intersection of the road I passed and the large one pinned by the statue of Orin on the map, a passerby told me that “You cannot go along over there as it’s flooded.”
I was wholeheartedly surprised at it.
I knew that the water reached just in front of the school, but I didn’t expect that the water advanced that much. If it advances more than I imagined, the safety of my plan is shaken. But there was no use in returning back. I felt unease to go nearby the mountain as the landslide alert had already been issued, but I guessed it’s okay and moved on, because when I went along the mountain, I found that people around the area didn’t evacuate and cars were still at their house. Some cars were running and police cars were going to the east through a narrow road.
Got it!
This was the first time I found hope after we evacuated. It was highly possible that this way was led to a safe road because police cars were running through it. I may be able to find a safe good place to meet up.

The rain grew heavier again in about 20 or 30 minutes after I set off. When I got a little further, a siren started to wail and a radio announcement rang out through the area, telling us, “Please evacuate to the hill.”
I was at a loss for words...
When I looked toward a paddy to the south from a relatively high place along the mountain, there was the brown water collecting in the distance. I didn’t know whether it was from the flooded river or overflown paddies and irrigational canals. But at least there was a siren ordering evacuation and was the water within the distant that I could see with my eyes. If I had been alone, I could have run through. I wasn’t sure whether the water waited there till I went back and brought my family. Even if we were in time and could go through this point, I wasn’t sure at all whether it was safe over there. What could I do if we got unable to go neither forward nor backward? We might be isolated in a much worse situation than the evacuation site. It is nothing but a secondary disaster. It was too risky.

11.A Plan to Leave Okada Elementary School 2

Suddenly I felt exhausted when I trudged along my way back. But I couldn’t throw away the hope to leave the evacuation site. I looked for another route on the map in my smartphone on my way back. As I saw with my eyes, the water flowed into the area to the west of the elementary school, so it wasn’t rational to go out to the west. But I wanted to consider the possibility just to be sure. If it wasn’t successful, I had to accept the situation. I wanted to do all of what I could do, so I went back to the school, searching for information.

[Let me know]
”Can you go through Prefectural Route 80 without any problem?”
02:07 pm – July 7th, 2018.

Prefectural Route 80 is the road joined to the Soja-Ohashi Bridge and the one you come across when you go between the mountains to the north from Mabi. There is the Shinpon Post Office at the meeting point of the two roads. If we could get to the post office, going north from the west side of the school, we could use Route 80 to go to Soja city, so the idea was to set a point to meet up somewhere in this route.

”Want information about how far the water reached, but, hmm”
02:12 pm – July 7th, 2018.

”Probably, the area in front of the school is hopeless. The water is coming higher and higher because of the rise if the water level.”
02:13 pm – July 7th, 2018.

”Hey, we definitely need a drone for disasters.”
02:33 pm – July 7th, 2018.

Because of the disappointment and fatigue, I got a little irritated and fainthearted. Nothing can be more grateful than the accurate information. At any rate, it was enough if I could know which route was safe and how the water was going. So I was thinking irresponsibly that it was greatly helpful if somebody checked the roads by a drone or something like that. (I found later that a drone couldn’t fly in the rain.)

”Want to know if I can use the route from Sinpon to Soja.”
02:18 pm – July 7th, 2018.

If I could get information as to whether Route 80 was safe or not from someone living around Sinpon or Route 80, what I needed to do else was only to check if I could leave the elementary school to complete the plan to leave Okada Elementary School. When I came back to school, I started to look for the exit to the west from the school without telling my wife that I was back.

The path on the north of the gym leads to the exit to the north and it joins to Mabi Furusato Museum! In other words, I could go through to the west by this path and it might be possible to use the new route if it was safe. In addition, though the water reached just in front of the school, surprisingly there was little that muddy brown water on the west of the school. I don’t know why, but the water hasn’t flowed into this side! There arouse a hope again.
I’m glad I didn’t give up!

There were some people and also some cars around Mabi Furusato Museum. And I remember that there was a car from the city office. I guessed that this car came from outside of Mabi, on the same reason before when I saw a police car in the previous plan. If so, it was possible to go out from here by car. I went back to my family in the elementary school with a light step. I told them that as cars could come close to the school we could ask for a lift to leave there, asking a member of the office staff to keep the car key and leaving our car.

Next, we started to make arrangement to ask a lift. It is uncomfortable to ask such a thing of others. So after all, family members were the best, but none of my family had been around Okada Elementary School. There were few people who could come smoothly through an unfamiliar route. My brother was the only one who was trustworthy about driving and could come here without getting lost. I contacted him and fortunately he said he just finished night work and was about to go home so he could move. So I told him the plan and the route and asked to come to the meeting point.

After that, however, feelings of uneasiness swirled around in my breast.

Probably, I could get to the Soja-Ohashi Bridge on the route on the west of the school. But I wasn’t sure whether Route 80, which we needed to use to get there, was safe or not. I watched movies of rivers in other areas and there was one which shot a collapsed road. It’s said that the water of a flooded river flows quickly so that it washes away the bank, and it becomes hollow under a road to make the surface collapse. Route 80 goes along the Sinpon River. I couldn’t imagine how the situation was at all as I hadn’t used the route so often. I had already asked on SNS whether it was safe or not beforehand, but there was no clear answer like before about the bridge. I asked some of the evacuees as well but no one knew. Even if I could get an answer, I wasn’t sure whether it was reliable or not. The information must be accurate.

What can I do if Route 80 is about to collapse because of the flood? Isn’t my request to my brother absurd and fatal to him? The image of my brother in his car falling down in the collapse of the road arouse in me again and again. Suddenly I got filled with anxiety. My brother is on his way here on my request. I must be too ashamed to face my parents if my brother is killed in an accident on the way. No one can be sure whether it goes well or not. Am I asking him a life-risking gambling?

That’s unreasonable...

This plan was in a checkmate as I wasn’t sure about the safety of the route.
So I made a contact with him again to tell that the plan seemed to be too dangerous to ask him a favor and we would wait in the evacuation site.

”When I thought of leave the evacuation site on foot, what I wanted to know the most was which way was safe. I was with an old person and a child and it’s too hard for them to go through a rough road. If you aren’t sure about the safety of the route, to ask for picking up is risk-taking and may lead to a second- disaster. If you don’t have enough information, it is gambling to ask for a help.”
08:58 am – July 7th, 2018.

The second plan to leave the school failed like this.
I got exhausted from the walk around and another disappointment. When I told my wife that I gave up my plan, she looked rather relieved. She must have been worried as I was away going around. I spent time looking around and playing with my daughter lazily and found there were sorts of people. Many of them were talking about the damage caused by the flood. And about the anxiety for the future. There were kids running around or playing with a ball, and I saw a stark contrast between the kids and the worn-out adults. Ah, this is the sight of the life in an evacuation site. I’m quite a victim of the disaster now... I heard someone talking and found that the area around Sinpon was impassable then. I wasn’t sure whether it was correct or not, as it was only hearsay. But anyway it doesn’t matter now that I resigned the second plan and decided to stay in the evacuation site. And thinking like that, I got relieved not to involve my brother in such a risk-taking plan. If we stayed here, we wouldn’t lose our life even at the worst. That’s fine.
I did my best.
There were my exhausted mother-in-law and my daughter running around, and we two, husband and wife, who couldn’t sleep. How long does it take before getting out of here? I don’t desire much, but only want a decent life again. I felt depressed thinking like that.

”I wanted to leave here to Soja via Sinpon, but I was told that Sinpon had already been blocked. Well, there seems to be no way to get out of here. If not for those misjudgements of mine...”
02:32 pm – July 7th, 2018.

My clothes were wet because of the rain and sweat. I wanted to change my clothes but I didn’t bring another one. I had no way but to stand the discomfort.

”There were not so many people expected and prepared for a long stay, and we were short of clothes. Though it was not uncomfortable as it’s summer and rainy and wind was blowing, of course we sweated and there’s no bath. So shortage of clothes was a problem.”
09:33 am – July 8th, 2018.

We had already eaten most of the foods we had, so we needed to wait for rations. What I saw in hands of the people who got their ration was that gomoku-rice. Though I was glad that we had foods, but I got tired with the taste. I wanted to have some different foods like bread or something.

”Lunch is being provided now, but all 3 meals so far are gomoku-rice and many people got tired of it not to go and get it. ”
03:34 pm – July 7th, 2018.

Whenever I needed to stand an unpleasantness, I felt a rush of remorse, “Why couldn’t I prepare and judge things better? What was I doing?” I went to see how the water in the frontage was, as I didn’t have anything to do. If the water comes up and the ground is flooded, the car in the ground will be broken as well. This is the picture I took then.

Okada Elementary School, the evacuation site
July 7th 2018, 02:50 pm
The point 20m down the slope in front of the school is like this. The houses in the neighborhood are flooded. I could walk through the road in 6 am…

About 2 hours and a half have passed since then, and the amount of water was rather increased. The level of the water got up so high that a car would be sunk under the water if it forced forward. There were more people than 2 hours before, who noticed that and came to see the condition.
The number of posts calling for rescue from around the elementary school was increased on SNS and it made sense when I saw the condition. When I went back to the elementary school, foodstuffs for lunch was started to provided and there was a long line of people waiting for it.

12.The Face of My Wife, Unforgettable through the Rest of My Life

I found later that there were about 2,000 evacuees in Okada Elementary School, but I actually felt for the first time that the number of people was quite increased when I saw the long line. Inevitably the conversation of other evacuees reached me.
“Is there anyone who has a boat? My grandma is…”
“Ah! Here you are! I’m really relieved…”
“What will become of us in the future? Well, we all are in the same situation, though.”
The line was moving so slow. They must have been really uptight because of fatigue and hunger, but I felt that people in Mabi were warmhearted and patient. As far as I know, there was no quarrel or fight during my stay in Okada Elementary School. The atmosphere was not savage at all, and I felt the mood of people sharing their pain and having sympathy with each other. I didn’t know most of them before, but I felt that the most when I happened to have a talk with them. There were some people who went out of the school, and we talked about the water in the frontage now and then.

”The fact is gradually become known to evacuees that the level of water in the frontage of the school is getting higher. Conversation about anxiety is heard about the risk of the water coming up to here... Announcement of some kind is needed...”
03:38 pm – July 7th, 2018.

There must have been few people who got accurate information in the evacuation site. As everyone gathered information on their smartphone, there might be no great difference in the level of the information that each person could reach. It’s terrible to think how it would have been if the information about the water had spread incorrectly.

”About gathering information. Most of the people were with smartphones and could reach the latest information, but it was mainly consisted of subjective impression and objective facts were not so many. So in many cases I wasn’t sure about the accuracy of it. There’s few groundless rumor then but if there had been, it would have been easily spread, I think.”
09:54 am – July 8th, 2018.

The number of posts about the game against Tokyo Verdy, which I was to go, was gradually increasing on SNS. In J League games, a starting roster is announced about 2 hours before the game starts. So I usually get in the mood for the game around this time of the announcement of the starting roster and it is fun to imagine how the game will advance. The kickoff time was 6 pm that day, so the starting roster would be announced around 4 pm. There were many among the people who went to the game, saying that they would fight for the people who couldn’t come to the game because of the disaster. Well, I hadn’t thought at all that I, one of the supporters who would go to the game, became “who couldn’t come” like this. Fagiano Okayama, the team I’m supporting, was in the bottom of its form at the time, but in the previous game, there was a sign of recovery. Can the team accelerate its pace of the recovery? This game against Tokyo Verdy was highly important. Well, I really wanted to go and watch it…

”I’m looking forward to the game against Tokyo Verdy, which I wanted to watch at the stadium but can’t. My house got submerged by the flood and my car was dead. But even at the worst, I don’t want to lose my pleasure.”
03:39 pm – July 7th, 2018.

The line for the foodstuff moved really slowly. I guessed, from the package of the foods, that what we could get was either gomoku-rice or rice balls as usual. That one again this time… But I was rather hungry maybe because I walked around. I was not in a situation where I could complain about anything. After about 30 minutes in the line, I could see the end of the line at last. It seemed that hot water was needed to warm gomoku-rice up and it took time to prepare the hot water. It might be the reason why the line was moving so slowly like that. It was when I was thinking that my daughter preferred rice ball to gomoku-rice that I heard someone, who got the ration and was going back, saying “Oh, it’s curried pilaf.”
That isn’t gomoku-rice!
Suddenly I started to look forward to getting it. First of all, I was really glad to have a different taste, and I was interested in the taste of the emergency food of curried pilaf. Though I was tired of, the taste of the gomoku-rice was rather good, so it’s highly possible that the taste of the curried pilaf was good as well. Thanks to the unexpected excitement, I got back my energy after a long time and the joyful expectation of the curried pilaf surpassed the pain to wait in the line. The person in front of me got the ration and now it’s my turn. I asked rice balls for my daughter and curried pilaf which was bigger for adults, and when I was waiting for them to be cooked, my wife ran up to me.

I’ll never forget her face then.
It was a crying face in a mixed feeling of relief and gratitude.

She said that we didn’t need to worry about the food anymore and suggested me to go back. I asked her the reason and she explained that her sister made a contact with her father who was in the safe place near here and told that we evacuated in Okada Elementary School, and his family rushed here to help us. They tried hard to make contact with my wife and mother-in-law but maybe because the reception of the phones was weak, sometimes they couldn’t receive the voice well and sometimes the call got disconnected. Unexpected help came to us! We can leave here and return to a decent human life. A sense of relief and liberation that I was relieved from my burden.
I was really, really glad.

I expressed my deepest gratitude to them and asked from where they came, and they answered that they passed Route 80 to Mabi via Sinpon and arrived at the west side of the school, which was the same route as my second plan. That was the route I gave up because I wasn’t be sure about the safety, but for the people who were familiar with the area, it was easy to assume whether it was safe or not around there. They could come because they had knowledge.

My wife and mother-in-law were crying. Their feeling was pouring as they were relieved from fatigue, uneasiness, and tension at the same time. When I went out to the west of the school, though there was no sign before, the water came to the nearby rice field and made the field nearly flooded.
After all, in terms of the water, maybe it was a race against time on both east and west side. The scenery I saw from the comfortably running car was unforgettable. The river along the road was swollen but not flooded, and I didn’t feel danger in it. The road wasn’t flooded either and there was no trouble going Route 80 and I saw a lot of car running.
Strangely, I felt satisfied. That wasn’t me who solved the problem, but I felt that what I did wasn’t at all in vain and the fatigue made me feel rather good. My daughter was whining to be held to my wife. Fortunately, our family could leave Okada Elementary School and move to the safe house like this.

I cannot help shedding tears when I think of the people who still lead a life in the evacuation site, as I experienced it as well even though it was a short time. I wish from the bottom of my heart that the evacuees could finish the uncomfortable life and get rest in a safe and relaxing place as soon as possible.

”A car came for us from my wife’s parental home and we could move safely to the house. Phew, we’ve settled down at last. Thank you for your concern.”
05:11 pm – July 7th, 2018.

13.A Life with Soccer

We arrived at the relative’s place and took a bath, and I gave my sweat-drenched daughter a wash. As I didn’t have clothes to change, I borrowed a set from them. I felt as though I had come back to life when I was cooling myself by an electric fan.
I spent time with my daughter, and it was turning 6 pm. The game against Tokyo Verdy, which I was supposed to go and watch, was about to start.

07:23 pm – July 7th, 2018.

As the battery of my phone was running low, I was only watching the posts by Fagiano-supporters on SNS and it seemed that our team scored first. The team might get recovered indeed.

”Yesssss! Okayama won!!!”
07:55 pm – July 7th, 2018..

Our team wonderfully won the game, fighting “for whom couldn’t come too” (this is the phrase on the banner from Fagiano-supporters at the stadium that day) because of the disaster. It was the first victory in 7 games. They gave big and powerful cheers to people in Okayama. I watched the game the next day after I moved to my parental home and I felt that probably they would rebound from a slump. They won the game beautifully as before when they were in a good form. As I’m watching soccer for a long time, sometimes I come across an unforgettable game. And this one is exceptional. It must be the game that I’ll never forget throughout my life.

”Why, it’s a wonderful game. Even only the result was enough pleasant, the details were so excellent that it really made me moved...”
04:04 pm – July 8th, 2018.

I had dinner after a bath. The dinner was really nice. After I drank some beer in peace of mind, I was suddenly overcome with fatigue so I went to bed at 9 pm. A sleep in the cool and large room with my legs stretching out to the full. On reflection, I didn’t sleep for 1 day and a half apart from the doze for about 30 minutes. When I woke up after the sleep like a log, it was 4 am. The other family members were still asleep and I didn’t have things to do in particular, so I wrote an article and after that, waited for the daybreak, lying down.

“After I became a victim of the disaster”

In the morning, my brother came to fetch me.
The relief I felt when I saw the face of my blood relation was beyond description.
I headed toward my parental home on my brother’s car. …This is the end of the evacuation at last.
I was really glad to show my parents that I was all right.

”Came back to my parental home! Ah, my house!”
10:17 am – July 8th, 2018.

3 days from July 6th to July 8th.
This is the end of my story of the evacuation I experienced.

Looking back at the disaster to write this, I considered what it was and how to draw a conclusion from the experience.
How well or bad was I going as an evacuee and a victim of a disaster? I told my story and asked for an opinion from people with various roles such as my boss at the workplace and a friend of mine who worked at a city office in a different prefecture.
What I found in this process is that it wasn’t a fault of certain responsible people but probably many people in various positions in Okayama were each overoptimistic in their own way. In other words, I conclude that it was a failure caused by the whole Okayama.
I heard that companies and public offices in areas of frequent disaster had know-how gained from their experiences of difficulty in disasters. And they prepare for the next one and do sufficient training. It is the same with the evacuees. Isn’t it high time to change our mind toward disaster to avoid, for example, the misjudgment that I made? We must share this recognition of disasters. And we must never cause such damage in a disaster again. If not, we would have no excuse to the people killed in the disaster this time.
We, Okayama, must change. Each person in each position must change in their own way. This is my conclusion.

This is off the topic, but as I said some times in this story, I had some time thinking of soccer in the evacuation site. There were lots of things that I must stand or that made me uneasy, but I could escape from bitter reality and reset my feelings when a sudden thought about soccer came to me. It was really helpful and I could feel refreshed as if I cried pleasantly. On reflection, not only Fagiano-supporters but also the people I got acquainted with thanks to soccer cheered me up and held out a helping hand for me. Thank you so much. We couple shed tears whenever we talk about your favor.
We have a phrase, a soccer family, and I haven’t felt it this strongly before. I met this sport in the Agony of Doha and since then, I’ve been in love with it. It’s my treasure.

I love soccer from the bottom of my heart.
And my love will never fade away until the end of my life.
It may take years before I get back my broken life with soccer. But I confirmed my determination to recover it.
See you some time in some stadium.

Well, my memoir is coming to an end.
Before closing it, let me talk about my future life and a favor to ask.

My house was flooded up to the second floor and the inside was so messed up that some things which were in the first floor floated up into the second floor. The rooms were filled with an irritant odor of chemicals and it’s quite impossible to stay there for a long time.
Now, I’m dealing with the problems after the disaster like the damaged house. And I’m doing things to rebuild our life at the same time as possible like arrangements for housing and a car. I have to deal with the damage before rebuilding our life, and I’m spending a lot of money everyday even for the preparation for preparing things. I came to know for the first time that this is the situation of the people who don’t have anything.

”Before the disaster this time, I was among the people who encourage the stricken area. So I know the both sides now. There’re not a few things that I’m reluctant to ask, but I’ll dare to as one of the victims, considering the situation. Because I was willing to help the victims when it occurred the other areas.”
09:33 am – July 10th, 2018.

None of my family is sure when each of us can return to work. I’m spending these days feeling anxious about the difficulty we would suffer from in the future as the difficulty is highly probable. I decided my mind to save money as much as possible and work hard without a thought for how I look.

I know it is an impudent request, but if you like this article and can give me support, I would like to ask you support through the “support” button below. And allow me to use all of the contribution you sent me to rebuild my life.
Please, help us.

Thank you so much for reading through my memoir.

Lastly, to all of you I got acquainted with thanks to soccer.
Please wait a while until I tie the shoe-race of my spikes tightly and go back to the circle of you.
Definitely, I’ll be back.

14.After That

The condition of Mabi when the water didn’t completely go away. It’s muddy everywhere. Dried mud turned powdery and whenever cars run over it, that powder is blown up in the air.

Inside of the submerged car. There was no water left in the car, and the windows were broken. There were no broken piece of them, so maybe they were washed away.

My wish didn’t come true and most of my belongings were soaked. It is regrettable that I lost the collection of books about soccer and PC. As the things on the desk moved very little though the other things messed up, the water level seemed to be around the height of the desk.

The Oda River whose bank was burst. The level of the water dropped and it returned to the ordinary tranquil river. There were fire engines on the bridge I went over when I was commuting and it was blocked. It seemed that there were people led by the Self-Defense Force conducting a search for missing people. I was so glad to see the reliable people that I was about to weep.

Okada Elementary School, the evacuation site
July 9th 2018, 02:00 pm
It is sunny and the sun is rather strong. Cicadas are singing.
The water receded completely.

The frontage of the gateway of Okada Elementary School which was blocked in the disaster. The water receded completely and the road is dry. There are already many people and cars clearing out the area.

The ground of Okada Elementary School where we spend the night. The number of the passenger cars decreased, and that of the emergency vehicles increased instead. Most of the emergency vehicles were with a license plate of other distant prefectures.

”To tell the truth, July 9th is my daughter’s birthday. I’m glad she overcame safely the hard days from the night when she was woken up and brought out to evacuate. We family are going to have a birthday party for her tomorrow. Also going to buy her a birthday present. We’ll grant her extra toys as a reward.
She won’t remember the event, as however grown up she has been, she is only a 2 year-old child. But I want to tell her “you had a nice birthday with the help from the people who love soccer”. And I hope she would be a fan of soccer and to be a Fagiano-supporter. lol.”
12:09 am – July 8th, 2018.

My love for my wife and daughter grew deeper through the experience of the disaster.
I’ll do my best as a husband, a father, and a son.

See you later.

July 12th, 2018.

*If you find something wrong with the use of words, please send a message to the translator via DM on twitter.(Sharyo Kawabe )(川辺車輛)

J2の民 / 独学でサッカーについて学んだことをYouTubeで発信中 /サッカーブロガー10年目 / ファジアーノ岡山サポ /地方クラブ考察 / 西日本豪雨災害被災者 / サッカーの見かた講座「ゼロ式」主宰
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