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In the early hours of the morning on August 20, Hiroshima City was hit by severe thunderstorms. As the downpour continued, the ground gave way in the Asanami and Asakita Wards, triggering landslides that have caused the deaths of dozens of residents.

With the storm finally passed and clean-up projects beginning, we visited the disaster site where we saw just how long the road to recovery is going to be.

We arrived at the area around Midorii Station, one of the most heavily damaged districts of the city.

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Everywhere we looked, there were piles of debris, despite more than a week having passed since the terrible incident.

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▼ This car looks like it’s in bad shape…

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▼ …until you compare it to this one.

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We spoke with Mr. Yamaguchi, a long-time resident of the neighborhood. “We’d never had a storm with that much rain and thunder before,” he told us. “The thunder was so loud, twice I thought it shook my house, but now I realize it was probably the landslide that I felt.”

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“I went downstairs in the morning, and the whole first floor of the house was flooded. When I stepped outside, it took me a few moments to comprehend what I was seeing, I never imagined it would be this bad…”

▼ Yamaguchi’s own house was narrowly spared the destruction that befell many of his neighbors’ homes.

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▼ A sign at a relief center announces that towels and drinking water are being distributed to victims.

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One resident of central Hiroshima, where no large-scale damage was reported, was quoted as saying the Midorii hillsides aren’t fit for housing. Despite the devastation currently on display, though, landslides don’t seem to be a recurring event in the area. Looking around, we saw several classically styled homes that had obviously been standing for several decades before the recent landslides.

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“Even if you go back years and years, there were never any landslide here,” asserts Yamaguchi. “No one thought this was a dangerous place to live.”

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The Midorii resident recalls a tragic moment during the storm when he momentarily considered evacuating his home. “I opened my door, and I saw someone being carried away by the waters rushing past.”

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Relief workers are still toiling away, and while we’re sure many of you are admirably ready to volunteer your services on-site, it would be advisable to hold off making your travel arrangements just yet. The Mainichi Shimbun reports that currently neither lodging nor any other services are being provided to volunteers from outside Hiroshima Prefecture. Unless you’re in a situation to secure your own room and board (plus drive yourself to and from the stricken areas every day), the best way to help is by making a donation to the Red Cross or another such charitable organization.

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Photos © RocketNews24
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