Girl from Hokkaido

Hokkaido Earthquake a Tragedy Ending a Summer of Disasters

There is no silver lining to a natural disaster, other than the celebration of the lives that were spared. The lessons to be learned are difficult and often buried deeply underneath the tragic weight of lives lost, injuries suffered and damages incurred.

This past September, Japan’s island of Hokkaido was struck by a 6.7-magnitude earthquake. Earlier in the same week, Typhoon Jebi ripped through nearby Osaka leaving a wake of destruction and death. Both quake and typhoon came at the tail-end of a disastrous summer for Japan, including flooding and landslides that killed more than 200 people and heat waves that killed another 130 people.

The death toll after Typhoon Jebi reached 17 and after the Hokkaido earthquake reached at least 44, with at least 660 people reported injured. The Hokkaido quake left all 5.3 million residents without power. (That’s more than British Columbia’s total population!) The quake released a number of landslides on the island as well, the compounding disasters sending many people to live roughly in evacuation shelters until help arrived.

Although recovery and reconstruction efforts are full-steam-ahead, debt is piling up for Japan. And on an individual level, many people are struggling to repay debts, including those who were forced to switch to jobs with lower incomes because of past natural disasters.

It’s difficult to grasp the enormity of loss that occurs when a quake hits, and it’s hard to know how to prepare other than doing our own, individual best to be prepared by keeping a stocked earthquake kit in your home.

While truly tragic, it is incredible to see the resilience of those whose lives have been impacted, and the efforts of the country pulling together to rebuild. Thousands of people helped in the search and rebuilding efforts and just two weeks after the quake, Hokkaido’s largest thermal power plant was back up and running.

Rebuilding after the impact of multiple disasters, Japan needs all of our continuing thoughts and prayers as the government and citizens deal with the ongoing aftermath.

-Article written by Sophie Wooding

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