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Typhoon Songda hammers Okinawa on trek north

Date Posted: 2011-06-02

Typhoon Songda, the first May typhoon to strike Okinawa in 60 years, made its way across Okinawa Saturday night as a Category 3 typhoon packing winds of 125mph/201kph/55.3m/s while cruising through Naha City.

Some 270,000 homes were left without power during the typhoon’s three-hour visit to Okinawa, while knocking down trees, submerging cars during flash flooding, and ripping roofs off buildings. Songda, which is a branch of the Red River in Vietnam, was content to wreak havoc only in the form of property damage; no deaths or injuries were reported.

The typhoon began its quest in southern Okinawa, then worked its way north to the main island. Starting with Kumejima Town, Songda left 10 cars submerged by flash flooding, and coastal barriers were destroyed. An arcade roof fell and wreckage strewn across the street at Chuo-Sousetsu in Itoman City. In Yaese Town, vending machines were toppled and a boat was lifted from the water onto land by the howling winds. Trees were uprooted across the island, and thousands of trees had limbs and branches stripped away.

In Ogimi Village, a galvanized sheet iron roof was torn away by heavy winds, then caught in electric power lines, knocking a utility pole down. In Ogimi Village, a house trailer was rolled over onto its side. Kin Town Junior High School saw its golf training ground totally destroyed, with sheet metal roofing coming apart and part of it flying some 80 meters to a corner of the school grounds.

Gift shops on Kokusai felt the impact with broken glass windows. Signboards and vending machines in a parking lot on Kokusai were blown to a pedestrian walkway. Okinawa Prefectural Police say there were 74 traffic signal lights cut off, two signal poles destroyed by heavy winds in Uruma City and Okinawa City, eight cases of traffic light breakdowns, and 46 instances of traffic signals damaged. Some traffic accidents were reported as a result of non-functioning traffic signals.

Farmers are feeling the effects of Typhoon Songda. Roughly 80% of this year’s goya crop was destroyed, and other vegetables, including lettuce and cucumbers were heavily damaged by the strong winds and the salt. Farm organizations say the storm will send the price of producing soaring.

As the storm moved across mainland Japan, heavy rains caused by the remains of Typhoon Songda posed numerous landslide threats Monday, particularly in the areas devastated by the earthquake and tsunami in eastern Japan March 11th. Flooding was widespread in Miyagi Prefecture, and power outages struck Minaminsanrikeu in Iwate Prefecture, where many citizens are still housed in emergency shelters in schools. East Japan Railway Co. stopped service on a number of its lines, as winds as strong as 118kph crossed Miyagi Prefecture.

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