【December 2019 No.405】Visiting Churches Damaged by Recent Typhoons

by Kato Makoto, executive secretary

Typhoons 15 (early September) and 19 (mid-October), referred to in Western media as Faxai and Hagibis, caused damage from Kanagawa District and Tokyo District’s Higashi and Chiba subdistricts to areas northeast and even beyond Tohoku District. I will report on only some of the districts that were affected.

 

As I had been planning to visit Tohoku on a missionary personnel matter, I combined that with visits to the offices of both Ou and Tohoku districts as well as to Kawamata and Motomiya churches in Fukushima prefecture during the time period of Oct. 16 to 18. I was personally able to deliver relief funds from General Secretary Akiyama Toru to each of those districts and, at Tohoku District’s Mission Committee meeting on Oct. 18, heard the report listing all the damage suffered throughout the district. Although the damage was widespread and severe, I was left with the impression that the lessons learned from the 2011 Great East Japan Disaster had been well implemented so the response had been swift and effective. On Oct. 17, I visited Kawamata Church, which was hard to find, so I depended greatly on my car’s navigating system. I had heard that the river had flooded over its banks, but at first the effects were rather difficult to discern. The church parking lot was covered with sand from the flooding, but it was only as I was led inside the building that it became evident that the water had risen above the floor. Fortunately, the sanctuary and the newly rebuilt manse were high enough to avoid damage, but the Bibles, hymnals, etc. on the lower floor, along with the furniture, toilet, etc. all had water damage. While I was there, two representatives from the city hall came by, but one said that while the living quarters were eligible for assistance in the removal of debris from under the house, the church building itself was not. Nevertheless, removing debris and drying out and sanitizing the space under the floor is necessary, so financial assistance is still needed. I then went to visit Motomiya Church and kindergarten. Because of the flooding of the Adatara River, both the kindergarten and church were under water. The waterline could clearly be seen along the walls and windows, and it was almost at the same level as the church had experienced when it was inundated during the 2011 tsunami. The fatigue of the people involved in cleaning up the mess was clearly evident on their faces. The church, which had just recently been rebuilt, had been reduced to ruins, so one can only imagine how dejected the pastor and parishioners must feel. Thus we need to ask ourselves how the Kyodan and the district should respond. (Tr. TB)

 

台風19号被災教会訪問

加藤 誠

 台風15号と19号の被害は、神奈川、東京・東支区、東京・千葉支区、東北教区に及んでいるが、今回は、その一部を報告する。

 元々、宣教師人事の関係で東北に出張予定が入っていたことに併せて、10月16日~18日に、奥羽教区事務所と東北教区事務所そして福島県の川俣教会と本宮教会を訪問した。それぞれの教区事務所には秋山徹総幹事から託されたお見舞金を手渡した。東北教区事務所を訪問した18日は、午前10時30分から教区宣教部委員会が開催され、教区内の被災教会の情報が一覧出来る報告書が配られた。福島県内の被災地域が複数ある深刻な状況にもかかわらず、2011年の東日本大震災の時の教訓が教区に生かされていたがゆえに、教区としての対応が素早く正確なのであろうと思わされた。17日にはまず川俣教会を訪問した。教会にたどり着くにはナビの指示が必要であった。川の氾濫と聞いていたが、注意して見ないと被災状況は分かり辛い。教会の駐車場は砂にカバーされていたため、氾濫の痕跡が残っていたが、案内されて教会の中に入り改めて床上浸水であったことを認識した。幸いにして礼拝堂部分と新築されたばかりの牧師館に被害はなかったが、書籍類や家具、トイレや壁が被害を受けた。滞在中に町役場から視察に人がきたが、住宅は床下の消毒や被災ゴミ撤去の援助の対象になるが教会は入らないと言う。衛生上の観点から床下の乾燥、消毒は必要なので経済的援助が求められる。続いて本宮教会・本宮幼稚園を訪問した。安達太良川の氾濫により、幼稚園、教会は水没状態であった。窓や壁に濁流の到達点が分かる横線が残されている。2011年に津波の被害を受けた東北の教会堂の中に残されていたのと同じ線である。そして片づけに追われている町の人々の表情には疲れの色が滲み出ていた。

 新しい会堂が全く使い物にならなくなってしまったことによる牧師・教会員の落胆を考えると、教区として、教団としてどのような援助が相応しいのかが問われるであろう。

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