Two weeks after tsunami waves swept across northern Japan, food and water are getting through to most survivors. But the next important phase of the relief effort─finding a more permanent home for the 200,000 or so evacuees huddled in schools and other public buildings─is proving more difficult.
In this small seaside community, more than 5,000 displaced people are housed in 53 different locations, including schools, temples and some private residences. Authorities have started construction on 70 units of temporary housing, but that's far short of what will be needed.
'This is a school, we can't stay here forever,' said Hitoshi Urashima, a 49-year-old architect whose waterfront home was obliterated on March 11. 'All these people have no place to go back to,' he said, motioning to neighbors in the gymnasium where he now lives.
City officials say they are moving as fast as they can.
'We want people to be able to return to their normal lives, so we are trying to get people into temporary housing as soon as possible,' said Satoshi Murakami, an official in Ofunato's emergency preparedness department. He says residents will be able to move into that town's first units next month.
But in Ofunato, as in other communities, administrators are struggling with an array of challenges making it hard to ramp up construction of new housing quickly. Power, fuel and basic equipment often aren't available. Some cities don't have a full read on who lived and died, much less what the survivors need in terms of housing.
Other communities are debating whether to move people farther inland. Some governments just can't figure out where to put new houses, if they build them.
Although many communities had contingency plans before the tsunami designating sites for temporary-home construction, many of the areas were damaged by the tsunami or can't be served by utilities. About 2,600 housing units have secured building sites so far, according to government figures, though relief experts say more than 50,000 may be needed.
The urgency to find more-permanent homes for evacuees is increasing. Aid workers say government-run evacuation centers are clean and well-stocked─some even have stockpiles of pet food for rescued dogs and cats─but they lack privacy, and are often difficult to heat. Some are located in cavernous gymnasiums with only space heaters to keep people warm, even as temperatures outside drop to as low as minus-6 degrees Celsius. Colds and flus are spreading rapidly, aid workers say.
Government officials have moved some victims to apartments and hotels in other cities. Tens of thousands of other evacuees have left public shelters to join family members in other parts of Japan. But officials are running out of apartment and hotel options and many remaining residents don't have family elsewhere.
为了加快新房建设速度，日本有关部门已经要求位于东京的一家房地产公司同业公会从都道府县政府那里接受项目，并开工建设。这家同业公会叫做日本预制建筑用品及制造商协会（Japan Prefabricated Construction Supplies & Manufacturers Association）。都道府县政府预计将支付相关费用，然后从日本政府那里获得大部分费用的补偿。
To speed up new housing, Japanese authorities have asked a Tokyo-based trade association of housing companies, the Japan Prefabricated Construction Supplies & Manufacturers Association, to take orders from prefectural governments and then start building. Prefectural governments are expected to pay the fees and then be reimbursed by the national government for most of the cost.
So far, the association has received requests for 33,215 residential quarters, with each one costing about Y5 million （$61,000）。 The homes, which are free to residents except for utilities, usually take 3 to 4 weeks to build and are designed to last for two years, until families make more-permanent arrangements. The most common models are small but have two bedrooms and a kitchen.
Such housing will be built as 'soon as possible,' said Kimihiro Hashimoto, an official from Japan's ministry of land, infrastructure, transport and tourism.
Three dozen units are already being built in the town of Rikuzentakada, where more than 10,000 people are living in schools and other shelters. The prefabricated buildings, being screwed and hammered together by an army of construction workers, appear to be well-insulated and will be heated.
The first residents will start moving in April 1. Priority for housing will be given to the elderly and families with small children, officials say.
但陆前高田市市长刀羽太（音）（Futoshi Toba）一直催促所在省和中央政府官员加紧行动。他说，首相菅直人（Naoto Kan）跟他提议，应在陆前高田市重建时把市民应该先转移至另一个市镇，但该市有大批年事已高的居民，因此这一解决方案不太现实。
But the mayor, Futoshi Toba, has been pressing provincial and central government officials to move faster. He says Prime Minister Naoto Kan suggested the mayor prepare residents to move to another municipality while their town is being rebuilt, but the large number of senior citizens in Rikuzentakada made that an impractical solution.
In the seaside city of Natori, where more than five hundred people were killed and thousands are still missing, around 2,000 people are still in evacuation settlements in schools and other government buildings. Officials plan to build 100 temporary homes on government property away from the sea, with construction starting as early as next week.
Officials acknowledge that won't be enough. But they say they have had other priorities, such as restarting power and water and assessing who is still alive.
'We need to know how many people are left,' said Kiyoharu Yoshida, one of the city officials leading the emergency response from City Hall.
He said the city thought about renting empty apartments for people that need a place to stay, but most of the available options were snapped up quickly by tsunami victims who have money.
Two blocks away, more than 200 people are living in layers of blankets surrounded by short barriers fashioned from cardboard in a cultural center. No one from the city has come to discuss relocation plans with them, some said.
'It's been two weeks and they haven't sent anyone over here,' said Yukitaka Aizawa, 60, a photographer who left all of his lenses and computer gear behind when he fled the tsunami waves. He now shares a small room with his mother, his wife, a cousin, an aunt and several other people.
They have a regular flow of food and water and heat, but he has to take his mother to a friend's house nearby to bathe, and wonders how long they can live like this.
'I guess we may have to make some kind of delegation to represent victims and go to City Hall,' he said.
While Mr. Aizawa and his family are considering trying to rent an apartment, he said their decision will depend on what kind of aid or temporary shelter the government offers, and how long it will take to deliver.
'On television I see some building and some city mayors already calling town meetings to discuss these things. We are still waiting,' he said. 'We cannot plan for the future without knowing what the government will do.'
2011-03-29 11:22 编辑：icetonado