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July 11 2018
Forced from home by floods, Japanese go back to school
Kaon Omori peeked into her classroom in the Japanese town of Kurashiki, gawping at evacuees forced from their homes by devastating flooding and landslides that have killed 179 people.
"In the classroom, all the desks and chairs have been moved to the sides, and people I've never seen before are staying inside," she mumbled.
"It's really weird," the 12-year-old said, touching her bobbed hair.
Authorities ordered as many as five million people to evacuate their homes during the record rains that have cut a swath through parts of central and western Japan.
And nearly a week after the rains began, with clean-up operations well under way, more than 10,000 are still stuck in shelters like the Okada elementary school in Kurashiki.
Among the hundreds of people at the school were former and current students, like Omori, a skinny sixth grader with a passion for volleyball.
She looked bemused at the transformation of her school, its gym now hosting neat rows of blue mats for displaced people to sleep on.
Japanese students change into indoor shoes when they enter their school buildings, but her designated shoe box was now stuffed with rolled-up clothing, intended for some of the hundreds of evacuees staying at the school.
Around noon, clutching her mobile tablet, she joined her friends in line for a bowl of cold noodles and two rice balls for lunch.
Despite the unusual circumstances, the school remained quiet and orderly, with its new residents removing their shoes before entering their temporary home.
Families got together to designate people to stay at the school and look after their children so the adults could get back to their flood-damaged homes and begin the clean-up work.
In the school yard, dozens of vehicles were parked, and aid workers streamed in continuously carrying donations.
Military vehicles delivered water, and medics pushed in wheelchairs for old people lying on the floor of the gym, classrooms or the nurse's office.
Okada school and its 222 students would ordinarily still have been in session, with the summer holiday not scheduled until July 19.
But the under the circumstances, principal Takashi Kano said it would be closed at least until the end of the holidays in late August.
"Nothing is decided beyond that," he told AFP.
The school's students and its 24 teachers and staff were all safe, he said, but many found their homes badly damaged by flood water that submerged the entire ground floor.
"Ordinarily, our goal at Okada Elementary is to raise the academic performance of our students, and educate them to be the types of people loved by the community," Kano said.
"But this is not the time. All our efforts now are being devoted to caring for the people who are here."
Dreaming of a hot meal
Despite the modest conditions, evacuees said they were simply grateful to be safe and have a place to shelter.
Pressed, some acknowledged they would like a hot meal, and perhaps a designated place for women and girls to change.
"There is no place to hide, really, except for places like bathrooms. It's hard on girls," said Hiroko Fukuda, 40, mother of an Okada Elementary student.
Her 11-year-old daughter stayed at the shelter for a few days but eventually started refusing food and is now staying with her cousins.
"But we can't complain," Fukuda said. "All of this helps."
For Yusuke Yoshida, sheltering at the school was a chance to revisit childhood memories.
"This is the first time I've been back in 30 years," the 43-year-old said, lying on the gym floor.
He had spent the last two days working to clear the flood-hit home he shares with his parents and a brother.
The ground floor was completely submerged by flood water by Saturday morning, and the family survived by moving to the second floor until Sunday morning, when they were rescued by troops on a boat.
"I am happy to receive rice balls. There is no way we would complain," he said.
"But the other day, volunteers came and prepared fried noodles. Oh, the taste of a freshly cooked, warm meal. That was amazing."
April 1st 2017
BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — An avalanche of water from three overflowing rivers swept through a small city in Colombia while people slept, destroying homes and killing at least 154 unsuspecting residents.
The incident triggered by intense rains happened around midnight in Mocoa, a provincial capital of about 40,000 tucked between mountains near Colombia's southern border with Ecuador.
Muddy water and debris quickly surged through the city's streets, toppling homes, ripping trees from their roots, lifting cars and trucks and carrying them downstream. Many of the residents did not have enough time to climb on top of their roofs or seek refuge on higher ground.
According to the Red Cross, 400 people were injured and 220 believed missing. President Juan Manuel Santos declared a state of emergency and said the death toll will likely rise but warned against speculating how many people remain missing.
"We don't know how many there are going to be," he said of the fatalities when he arrived at the disaster zone to oversee rescue efforts. "We're still looking."
Witnesses described feeling buildings vibrate and though an alarm reportedly went off to alert residents it could not be heard throughout the city. Videos residents posted online showed vast areas filled with wood planks and debris. Some could be heard calling out the names of people missing.
"In the middle of the night and this morning people lost loved ones," Minister of Interior Juan Fernando Cristo said. "They lost families, boys, girls, young people, the elderly,"
The Red Cross planned to set up a special unit in Mocoa Saturday afternoon to help relatives search for their loved ones.
"In this moment, it's chaos," said Oscar Forero, a spokesman with the Colombian Red Cross. "There are many people missing."
The slides washed away power stations, knocking out half of the electricity in the department of Putumayo, where Mocoa is located. The city's water network was also destroyed.
Santos said that at least 200 people were injured, 22 of them seriously, for which they were being airlifted to nearby cities.
He blamed climate change for triggering the avalanche, saying that the accumulated rainfall in one night was almost half the amount Mocoa normally receives in the entire month of March. With the rainy season in much of Colombia just beginning, he said local and national authorities need to redouble their efforts to prevent a similar tragedy.
Herman Granados, an anesthesiologist at the local hospital, said he arrived early Saturday morning and worked throughout the night on victims. He said the hospital doesn't have a blood bank large enough to deal with the magnitude of the crisis and was quickly running out of supplies.
He said some of the hospital workers came to help even while there are own relatives remained missing.
"Under the mud," he said, "I am sure there are many more."
At least four people, including a volunteer firefighter and a teenage girl, have died after floods in southwestern Germany.
Storms and torrential rain have caused chaos in parts of Baden-Wuerttemberg state, with pictures showing cars being washed away by swirling floodwater.
Officials in Schwaebisch Gmuend, near Stuttgart, said the firefighter who was killed had died trying to save someone near the town's train station.
The person he was attempting to rescue also died, said state interior ministry spokesman Carsten Dehner.
Elsewhere in the state, a 13-year-old girl, who police say was probably sheltering from the rain under a railway bridge, was struck by an intercity train.
Another victim, aged around 60, was found in a flooded underground car park in Weissbach, near Heilbronn.
Mr Dehner said the man was unable to escape when water quickly engulfed the garage.
Around 7,000 firefighters, police officers and rescue workers have been dealing with more than 2,200 incidents, according to Baden-Wuerttemberg authorities.
The heavy rain on Sunday evening and overnight into Monday meant several people had to be plucked to safety from their cars.
German news agency DPA also reported a house was destroyed and others damaged in Braunsbach after a river broke its banks.
Officials in one part of Schwaebisch Hall district said there had been more rain in a few hours than normally falls in several months.
If you are not in a drought area look out and get prepared
Torrential rainfall and flooding in Houston has led to five deaths and left more than 1,000 homes devastated.
One of the worst-hit areas is Harris County, where there were more than 1,000 water rescues carried out as scores of neighborhoods and roads were hit by rushing water.
Authorities say that area has seen 18 inches of rainfall.
"This is the most I have ever seen in the state of Texas," Governor Greg Abbott said of the rescues at a news conference, where he declared a state of disaster in nine Texas counties.
He warned that flooding risks would remain for several days.
Five bodies were found by authorities during a search of flood-hit areas.
This is our what you should do page, let no one die of ignorance.
See also our floods page on historical events
A Flood is usually a natural event that can have far reaching effects on people and the environment. Put simply, this is too much water in the 'wrong' place!.
This situation is usually caused by heavy rainfall making
waterways overflow their banks, and can happen at any time of the year, not
just in the winter, and also the rain may have been many miles away,and a few days ago.
Buzcall.com brings you smart ways to get prepared and to minimize the damage that may be caused to your property and more importantly to you and your family.
Keep yourself updated with the weather forecast all the time
We advise you to ensure your medicine kit and
battery operated radio are satisfactory at all times and your Grab-bag is well prepared
Have the life jackets ready for the children and any other member of your family who cannot swim.
If the water level gets so high that your appliances are soaked you should turn off your electricity until they can dry out.
When the the water gets too high you should move to higher ground if you can do so safely.
Stay away from power lines and electrical wires, never drive through flood waters, also they may cause gas leaks.
We always want your safety first so beware of the animals, especially snakes. Small animals that have been driven out of their homes may seek shelter in yours. Use a pole or stick to poke and turn items over and scare away small animals.
After the damage it is important to clean and disinfect
everything that got wet, even if it is dry now, it has been contaminated
Should you need to go into the deep water area because you have important things to attend to we advise you to be careful where you step, use a stick to feel your way. You should wear boots if possible...
When the government advises you to evacuate from your area
please do not ignore them and heed the warnings.
Prepare your grab-bag for emergency and we recommend you to record and memorize as much as possible important contact numbers.
Fortunately with modern communication systems these dangerous situations can be monitored easily and warnings issued by local government, civil defense, police, local radio and television.