Typhoon Faxai Devastates Bellingham’s Sister City Tateyama, Japan

Please consider donating to help support those affected in Tateyama.  Your donation can be made by clicking on the link below.  Be sure to mention on the message line at the bottom of the page “The typhoon disaster relief donation”.  Your support is greatly appreciated during this challenging time for our sister city.  

https://www.furusato-tax.jp/donationtojapan/en/form/input/12205

Northern Japan was hit by a powerful typhoon (this season’s 15th named storm – AKA “Typhoon Faxai”) on September 9th, 2019.  Among the most devastated in the regions is Bellingham’s own sister city, Tateyama, in Chiba Prefecture.  More than 100,000 households remain without electricity and fresh water nearly a week after the storm.  

Agricultural damage was extensive, which is the main source of income for many Tateyama residents, much like our own Whatcom County.  Many lost their strawberry farms and other crops.  Faxai caused severe damage to roofs, windows, and walls of residential homes. Many retail shops’ windows were smashed open by debris. 

The greenhouse and strawberry crops it contained were a total loss for this Tatayama family that has hosted many visitors from Bellingham over the years.

More rainstorms are expected to hit the region in the coming weeks, which will hamper recovery efforts.  The city is distributing tarps to those in need as a temporary solution, in order to avoid citizens getting “drenched” in their own home. 

Communications between friends are families and with the public media have been a challenge due to the lack of electricity and many landlines have been cut off.  It is expected to take another two weeks or more to restore power to all the affected areas.  

Mayor Kenichi Kanamaru appeared on Japanese national television (wearing a Bellingham tee-shirt) acknowledging widespread damage and calling for support.

Tateyama citizen and frequent Bellingham visitor, Hiroyuki Yamaguchi, was interviewed 9-12-19 on his way to SeaTac Airport to return to Tateyama to help. He joins Tateyama Mayor Kanamaru in asking everyone to keep Tateyama in their thoughts and wish them the best in this long recovery.

Hiroyuki was visiting daughter Akane in Renton.  Akane reports:

” The wind was so strong it severely damaged numbers of homes. The whole city is experiencing power outages and access to landline and cell signal.  Senior citizens are not social media savvy, so they have been cut off from communication.  City Hall lost power, but generators kicked in immediately.  My sister Minami, who weathered the storm in Tateyama is in shock from being a victim of this disaster. She has never experienced such devastation before.  My dad’s sailboat, which belongs to Tateyama Ocean Yacht Club, sank. Seven out of a fleet of thirteen sank. Only 2 survived and the rest are badly damaged.
 When reached out by others after a tragedy, it’s common for Japanese folks to reply, “we are fine and our home is fine” out of sense of “Enryo”, a widespread Japanese concept of restraining speech or actions to avoid unpleasant confrontation. People may minimize or even be silent regarding the impact of this disaster initially, but I think it’s severe enough that it require a long period of time for the city and its people to recover.”

Ryosuke Okawa, who participated in Ski to Sea race in 2011, drove to Tateyama neighboring town Minamiboso (Ferndale’s Sister City) two days after the disaster and created this video showing the destruction and devastation caused by Typhoon Faxai. 

The Bellingham Sister Cities Association is happy, however, to report the two marathon runners from Tateyama will still be coming to Bellingham for the race this last weekend in September.  The public is in invited to join our Mayor Linville meet them and show our support at Bellingham City Hall (210 Lottie St.) on Friday, September 27 at 12:30 pm.

If you have additional information to share, email it to media@bsca.org and we can upload it.

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