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Landslide threats still keep residents from condo homes

Date Posted: 2006-06-23

The rains have stopped, but shifting sands continue to worry Nakagusuku Village officials who are keeping residents away from a condominium building.

The building in the North Uehara area was threatened several weeks ago as heavy rains plagued Okinawa, tearing apart a parking lot and threatening the structure itself. Officials say the sensors they’ve put in place continue to register vibrations, and sand and stones are still shifting and falling. Residents have been evacuated to a nearby Senior Citizens Welfare Center, and village officials worry about the stresses being levied on residents. They express concerns residents will return home despite prohibitions. Residents are worried about their homes, asking “when can we go back?” The prefecture says ‘not soon’ and announced plans for building some temporary housing.

Officials have constructed fences and posted ‘Off Limits’ signs in the area.

A building collapse in the Shuri Tori Hori area of Naha is also continuing to shake and fall apart. Naha officials monitoring the site say they’re not worried about total collapse now, but says it is sufficiently dangerous 48 people in 14 families are still evacuated and prohibiting from moving back. Officials are allowing residents to return to their homes for half-hour periods to gather personal effects, clothes and memorabilia.

“I didn’t have anything for daily life,” said one displaced resident. “When I came back from the office, I couldn’t get into my home. They evacuated me straight away, so I’m happy even to have 30 minutes to go home. Now I can get my personal goods.”

One evacuee says he’s learned “to always be ready for some natural disaster, and to keep everything in good order. Always!”

Prefecture officials are now eying the weather and worrying about the upcoming typhoon season.

Okinawa this year received more than double the amount of rainfall during the monsoon season, with amounts registering at above 500mmm. They say it’s possible the extremely soft ground could give way and trigger mud and landslides even from a moderately heavy rain accumulation with a typhoon.

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