Typhoon Faxai hit Japan on 29 August, claiming three lives. Record-breaking winds of 207 kilometres per hour were recorded and more than 800,000 households were without power. It was this large-scale blackout that caused people most trouble, says Master’s student Yuka Hasegawa.
‘In Japan we usually identify typhoons with numbers. This one we call Typhoon 15, as it was the 15th typhoon in 2019. Faxai was, without a doubt, the strongest one so far. Typhoons are pretty common during the summer in Japan and people usually know how to cope with them. But the magnitude of Faxai took people by surprise.
People were not ready to face such a big typhoon and they didn’t know how to deal with it. Some houses were damaged, their roofs gone, and there was a landslide. The people whose houses were damaged have been relocated. None of this has happened before, making Faxai an extraordinary storm.
The main form of transport around Japan is the train, but during Faxai most trains stopped running, so many passengers were stuck at train stations. People’s daily lives were immensely affected. The blackout in particular caused a lot of turmoil. I experienced a blackout personally after the 2011 earthquake. It becomes extremely hard to live without water, gas, electricity or a mobile network. Due to this, many people have to travel to nearby cities in search of a network, to inform their loved ones that they are safe, or to alert the authorities about the damage and request help.
I contacted my friend whose hometown is one of the places that was affected, Minami Boso city. It is in the countryside and most of the residents are elderly people, with very few young people. Communication was impossible, so nobody was aware of the damage there, not even the news channels. At last, some young people were able to draw attention to their plight through twitter.’