A survey conducted by the government revealed a significant 60 percent of evacuees who needed assistance, like the elderly and people with disabilities (PWD), did not go to evacuation centres during the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake. Respondents, a total of 10,000, were randomly chosen from 35 municipalities in five prefectures. There were also additional 3,922 respondents, staying from December last year until March this year, from PWD organizations and nursing homes.
The survey given asked the respondents if they went to a local evacuation centre or not. And if not, respondents were asked for their reason. Respondents’ answers revealed that there were 20 percent, out of the 60 percent who did not go to evacuation centres, who could not go even if they wanted to because of their preexisting disability, like internal dysfunctions and intractable disease, while some were at stage-3 nursing care category.
The other respondents who said they didn’t go to evacuation centres gave various reasons. Most respondents, about 34 percent, thought they couldn’t stay “due to facility equipment and the living environment.” Some have just said they “couldn’t evacuate,” perhaps because of major limitations. There were also respondents who revealed that they “didn’t get any assistance” in order to evacuate, while others “didn’t receive enough information” on whether should they leave or not. For some, they thought they would “feel uncomfortable” with other evacuees. The remaining respondents said they didn’t know where the evacuation centres were, while others stated that their physical conditions made it difficult for them to leave home.
“We’ll keep in mind that many people who needed support in the disaster had to endure a harsh environment,” said a government official. The Japanese government wanted to assess how people who needed assistance were able to evacuate during the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake in order to evaluate their rescue guidelines. In the process, the government wants to develop, through a reform bill, better disaster management schemes.