Shelters use creative ways to deal with stress

Children's video game tents, meals and tablets - these are some of the measures taken at evacuation centers that house more than 4.000 people who cannot return home after Typhoon 19 struck eastern Japan on 12 in October.

The mega-storm brought record amounts of rain, causing extensive flooding that hit thousands of homes in several prefectures, leaving more than 80 dead.

The disaster-stricken Nagano prefecture had more than 900 evacuated on 20 in October. The city of Nagano has set up 70 tents, about 2,5 square meters each, in seven shelters to provide privacy for evacuees during changing clothes, breastfeeding and other purposes.

Six tents in the gym and its entrance area at Furusato Elementary School are used as locker rooms and medical rooms.

Miyoshi Yoshimura, 76, whose home in Hoyasu District was flooded by floodwaters, changed her clothes in one of the tents on 16 in October, saying that until then she was afraid to do so for lack of privacy.

"I don't want to change clothes in public, regardless of my gender or age," she said. “(The tents) are very much appreciated.”

Yukie Ito, 41, who was a volunteer as a nurse, also welcomed the enclosures, saying, “We can put a stethoscope on an evacuee's chest without worrying. They also need to talk about particular issues such as illness or conditions in family history. ”

Healthy eating

Nutrition is also a major concern for residents of long-term evacuation centers.

Mito City, Ibaraki Prefecture, began providing meals in “bento” boxes three times a day for evacuates in three shelters from the 13 night of October.

However, much of Benedict's food was fried, including chicken and other products. As visiting doctors pointed to a lack of balanced nutrition, the city asked the bento maker to offer alternative food offerings from October 17.

For two diabetes evacuees, the city has prepared a low-calorie and salt diet.

The modified bentos delivered to the Iitomi Junior High School's shelter academy on the night of 20 in October contained a more balanced meal such as vegetables, fried vermicelli, pasta salad, and white rice.

One of the evacuees, Junko Onobu, 70, enjoyed the healthier eating option, saying, "Older people like me prefer to eat this kind of food."

Distracting the children

Steps are also being taken at evacuation centers to keep children active in the hope of relieving the stress of a potentially traumatic experience.

At a sports facility used as a shelter in Nagano, children were playing in front of a TV screen with a Nintendo Switch video game console installed in a corner.

NTT East Corp. subsidiary in Nagano installed the console the day before. When employees visited shelters in Nagano Prefecture to set up Wi-Fi, they received suggestions from the evacuees, who requested an environment that could reduce stress among children.

“We want children to be children, making them relax in an environment close to their normal lives,” said one branch official.

Source: Asahi

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