Most of the facilities for the elderly damaged by heavy rain are located in areas where disaster risks are pointed out.

Most of the facilities for the elderly damaged by heavy rains are located in areas where disaster risks are pointed out September 1 at 10:03 a.m.

In Kyushu, where record-breaking heavy rains fell in July, damage was caused at many elderly facilities, but NHK analyzed the location data and found that most of the facilities were located in areas where the risk of disasters such as flooding and sediment disasters had been pointed out, and that many facilities were built in recent years.

According to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, 88 facilities for the elderly have been flooded, including Senjuen, a nursing home for the elderly in Kuma Village, Kumamoto Prefecture, where 14 residents were killed in a record-breaking downpour in July.

NHK obtained data from local governments for 33 facilities in Kumamoto, Oita, and Nagasaki Prefectures to analyze the risk of disasters.

As a result, 32 of the 33 facilities were included in flood inundation and sediment disaster warning areas.

It was also found that when 32 facilities were opened, 16 of the 16 facilities in the past 10 years and nearly 30% within the past five years, and the number of facilities for the elderly continued to increase in recent years.

Increased elderly facilities in flood risk areas

In addition, the survey was conducted in the basins of Kyushu’s first-class river, the Kuma River in Kumamoto Prefecture, the Chikugo River flowing through Fukuoka Prefecture, Oita Prefecture, and Saga Prefecture, and the Hikoyama River, which flows through Fukuoka Prefecture, where flooding occurred from July 4 to 7.

The branch is not covered this time.

A total of 255 facilities are located in the flood zone.
If you look at the opening time,
In the last 10 years, 58% of the 147 facilities have been opened.
In the last five years, 69 facilities, or 27%, have been established.
Almost the same trend was confirmed.

Shigeo Taki, a professor at Doshisha University who is familiar with the evacuation of the elderly, said, “It can be said that the construction of facilities has progressed in risky places, with land cheapness and convenience given priority. It may take time to regulate the location, but it is necessary to proceed tenaciously,” he said, noting that “efforts to quickly lead to evacuation are also essential, such as making specific evacuation plans for who will do what.”

Why Disaster Risk Areas Increase Facilities for the Elderly

Why are there more facilities for the elderly in areas at risk of disaster?

We were able to talk to a group home in Yashiro City, Kumamoto Prefecture, which was damaged by this heavy rain.

The facility, which was opened seven years ago, is expected to be flooded by hazard maps up to 3 meters or more, and this heavy rain has flooded part of the site.

After receiving information that the river had flooded, they decided to evacuate, and all about 40 users were evacuated by car.

According to the man of the facility director, it is said that the deciding factor in the construction of the facility in this place was “convenience of location” such as the national highway and the closeness of the station.

At the study stage, the risk of inundation was relatively low, but because it was far from the area where the elderly lived, there was no major flood damage for more than 50 years, so we decided on the current location.

The director of the facility said, “This place is along the national highway and close to the city center, so it was easy for the family of the user to come to visit, and it was a convenient place. Whether it was in the inundation area or not, this place had never been flooded, so the fact is that I couldn’t have expected it.”

This time, all users were able to evacuate safely, but since there were issues such as the timing of the evacuation decision being just around the corner, we are considering a more specific evacuation plan.

The director of the facility said, “We had evacuation drills in advance, but we were not able to fully assume the actual performance. If you do not prepare for “unexpected”, you will not be able to move as you would like in an emergency, and it will be difficult to judge evacuation. In order to protect the lives of users, I felt once again that it is important to always prepare for the actual performance, such as checking evacuation routes and what to bring out.”

Repeated damage to facilities

There have been repeated cases of damage to facilities for the elderly and facilities for the disabled built on land at risk of flood damage and sediment disasters.

11 years ago, in 2009, debris flow flowed into Life Care Takasago, a special nursing home for the elderly in Hofu City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, which was built in a sediment disaster warning area, and 12 people were killed, including disaster-related deaths.

Four years ago, in 2016, nine people entered the “Rakurakuen,” an elderly facility in Iwaizumi-cho, Iwate Prefecture, which was built along the river, as water from a river flooded by heavy typhoon rain.

In Typhoon No. 19 last year, the Kawagoe King’s Garden, a special nursing home for the elderly in Kawagoe City, Saitama Prefecture, which was located in the assumed area of inundation, was found in the water, leaving 120 residents and staff temporarily left behind, causing flood damage at at least 47 elderly-related facilities nationwide.

The country also starts to move to the location regulation

In response to repeated damage at welfare facilities, the government is also starting to take measures.

By amending the City Planning Act and specifying a “dangerous zone” for flooding two years later, it is now possible to prohibit the construction of welfare facilities such as facilities for the elderly and facilities for the disabled.

In addition, if a welfare facility that is already located in a risky location is relocated, measures are being promoted to promote the relocation, such as deciding to increase the subsidy for costs.