Japan (MNN) – Super Typhoon Hagibis—Tagalog for ‘speedy’—left a large and muddy footprint over Japan.
Today, thousands of military personnel and first responders remain in search and rescue mode in the wake of torrential rains that caused 20 rivers to burst their banks. Even as the casualty rate cl
imbs, Asian Access’ Robert Adair says the scope of long-term damage mens this is just the beginning. “The storm came in just south of Tokyo, kind of in Chiba and that region, and then came across Japan up through Tohoku, which is the area that was hit by the disaster back in March of 2011.“
He added, “There [are] multiple regions where rivers overflowed, and there’s local flooding–I saw somewhere was up over the first floor of some houses. Particularly up in Nagano, there’s some places where it looks like it was pretty extreme.”
Chiba, Fukushima, and Nagano Prefectures saw some of the worst damage. However, no one was left unscathed. As Adair flew into Sendai (Miyagi Prefecture) on Sunday, “I saw several rice fields flooded, roads that had water over them, from friends in the area, seeing about knee-deep water in neighborhoods and parking lots.”
Under Monday’s blue skies, the government’s Fire and Disaster Management Agency said 24 people were dead and nine were missing. On Saturday, a 5.7 magnitude quake struck east of Tokyo in Chiba, adding to the region’s woes. He hopes that as assessments come in, the effort won’t need to reach the scale of a significant disaster, “But there is the reality that this was a huge storm that hit over a very large, very highly populated area of Japan.”
Adair reminds us that emotional components factor into recovery, too. “Some of these areas were affected by the triple disaster. There’s another area that was also impacted by another large typhoon just a couple months ago. So there’s a ‘stacking effect’ in a couple of these areas.”
Experienced in disaster recovery
Asian Access is no stranger to post-disaster recovery. In 2011, A2 church leadership teams formed networks to respond to overwhelming needs caused by the triple disaster. In the wake of second and third wave response, A2 also saw churches seeded.
That led to a big dream of seeing 50-thousand churches planted in Japan by 2035—about as many churches as convenience stores. Ultimately, that could mean Christians comprise about two percent of the population. It’s a big, audacious dream…and it’s challenged by obstacles such as natural disasters.
Adair says the Japanese people are hardy. They’ve been through a lot, and yet every time they fall, they get to their feet, dust off, and keep moving forward.
That’s not to say facing Hagibis’ debris trail isn’t overwhelming. “We’re all trying to figure out what’s going on immediately around us. The first day or so it’s going to be a lot of figuring out what’s going on in our local neighborhoods, (with) our friends, our family, (and) kind of ride around (to assess the damage) and then we’ll continue to look at ‘how can the church respond to this?’ But right now, it’s so soon after it.”
He’s asking people to join hands with the body of Christ in Japan as they pray over a couple of things. “First, be praying for the people that are directly affected by this storm. There are reports that several people are missing who were caught up in rivers and water that was moving quickly, or that were caught in mudslides. Rescue efforts are going on in multiple locations right now–so, just praying for those folks.”
Second, in light of short-term and long-term recovery efforts, he wants believers to ask, “…how does the Gospel interact with that? How can the church kind of respond to these needs over what looks like a fairly large geographic area?”
Header photo Typhoon Hagibis courtesy National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.