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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Super Typhoon Hagibis: Emergency and Evacuation Procedures (My Personal Experience)

The sky was full of stars when I got home from the shelter. Super typhoon Hagibis has passed and thank, God we're all okay.

News about the super typhoon got out early last week and it was expected to be the strongest typhoon of the century. I didn't care about it that much same as what I usually do when there's one from where I'm from. I'm from a country that is frequently visited by typhoons so it didn't bother me that much. But as we approached the weekend I got paranoid about it. The typhoon was expected to reach Japan last Saturday, and Japan was prepared.

Thursday evening after work I decided to get some rice from the supermarket because I was out and boy was I surprised. All the instant noodles and bread aisles were empty. People are definitely panic buying because of the typhoon coming. I bought a few stocks and went home.

Friday evening we were told that all our classes for Saturday had been cancelled and we were advised to stay indoors. When I got home I started packing my emergency bag which consisted of the following:

  • Important Documents (Birth Certificate, Passport, etc.)
  • Some clothes
  • Toiletries
  • Instant food/Snacks
  • A Bottle of Water
  • Powerbank
  • A blanket and a small pillow
  • A book (very important LOL)
  • and money (most important)
I chose not to pack my laptop and camera because in case that we need to be on the move, it will be difficult for me to carry them around since they would add a lot of weight. I decided to only bring the essentials.

(Do not be like this guy. He brought his whole gaming PC with him LOL But yeah I know gaming is important HAHAHA)

After packing I stocked up on water on some clean PET bottle containers I have and filled my tub with water. Just in case the typhoon causes water disruption, I'd have water to use. 

Photo from my friend Angelli MaƱalac

Some apartments are old and some of my friends needed to put card boards on their glass windows in case they break. My apartment building is pretty new and sturdy so I decided it will fine (don't be like me lol). I researched the nearest evacuation shelters and took note of emergency numbers.

I got this from Hitachi Tourist  Information Center

(These apps were very helpful in keeping me updated, specially since news on TV were always in Japanese)

I was ready for the super typhoon but I couldn't sleep soundly that night.

Around 2 or 3 in the afternoon of Saturday, heavy rain started to pour in Hitachi. At 5PM our manager asked us to get ready to evacuate. Hitachi was on orange level and it was getting worse by the minute. She said it was better if we evacuate earlier because the typhoon will be stronger in the evening. 

We agreed and she picked us up around 6PM and we headed to Ikenokawa Sakura Arena in her car. It was one of the designated evacuation shelters in Hitachi. They are a lot of shelters the city government prepared but we chose this one so we could all be together and there is also a parking lot for manager's car.

When we got to the shelter they asked us to register our names and age (which manager did for us, but I guess if you don't have anyone with you who can speak Japanese, they would still help you). 

They handed each of us a can of bread and a bottle of water. They had television set up in the lobby so that the evacuees can watch the news and be updated about the typhoon.

Depending on the level of threat in the city you're in there might be instances where the city government have trucks helping to evacuate elderly people and those who are handicapped.

Each evacuee could get two blankets that they can lay on in the designated area for sleeping. In our case, it was the Martial Arts gym and soft rubber mats were set on the floor. 

We were also given a pair of slippers since we can't wear our outdoors shoes inside.

There are really nice and clean toilets available to use. And according to the site map, there's even shower rooms available to use when it becomes necessary.

There are vending machines for drinks (the banana milk was perfection), snacks, and ice cream (YES, ICE CREAM).

There was a designated charging area, but most importantly there's free Wi-Fi (with super fast connection!).

From time to time we get alerts about the typhoon (same us NDRRMC for us in the Philippines) so don't be surprised if people's phones around you just starts beeping altogether. In my case, I get the updates because of the Japan Shelter App (Apple Version here) (you won't get notices if you don't have a Japanese number). It is in Japanese though so I use the Google translate app to read it.

The experience might be different for other people and some of the facilities I mentioned might not be available in other shelters but I'm sure they will definitely make sure you're comfortable.

I'm hoping this will be the last typhoon I'd experience in Japan (which is highly unlikely since we are in the Pacific Ring of Fire). I'm just very thankful we got through it safely. Let's continue praying for those who were badly hit by the typhoon and let's hope the number of casualties wouldn't increase. Let's hope for the best.

If you want to help Japan you can donate through the Go Fund me link for disaster recovery here.

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