THE DAY KOJIMA SUNK

sea

The former national highway that appears like a river.

road

Flooded warehouse of Akashi Hifuku. The company spent five million yen building a protective wall against flooding after this incident.

The huge and powerful typhoon No. 16 (Chaba) had landed on Kagoshima Prefecture that morning and traveled through Kyushu Island. It landed again in Yamaguchi Prefecture just past 5:00 p.m. and Kurashiki-City went on full alert about the same time.
At 9:10 p.m., a call came directly into Kojima Firehouse. It was from Kojima's coastal Karakoto district, reporting that the Tenjin River was flooding due to high tides. Four fire fighters immediately rushed to the scene. Kiyoyuki Mitsui was among them. He remembers the scene vividly. "The gate to the pond was shut and water was about to flow out. We were asked to pump out the water; but, under the circumstances, that was impossible, even with our fire engine. If we did succeed in letting the water flow lower downstream, the river itself was about to flood due to high tides. Houses nearby could not escape flooding, so I contacted headquarters right away to let them know an evacuation should be called immediately."
During the next minutes until 10:00 p.m., emergency reports from citizens and members of fire brigades came in, one after another, to Kojima Firehouse---each reporting that the coastal area was likely to suffer damage from the flood tide.
Mr. Mitsui had hurried to a home for the aged to carry its residents on his fire engine to a shelter set up on a hill. Furthermore, he went round flooded houses to rescue the elderly and disabled. "The water was up to my hips in some areas. The district had suffered flooding below floor level several times, but never flooding of this magnitude," he explained.

Tanokuchi district also suffered from flooding. Akashi Hifuku Kogyo Co., Ltd., located along the former national highway, had assembled its executive members at 10:00 p.m. to prepare for the typhoon. Toshihiko Hiraoka of the general affairs department received a call two hours before at 8:00 p.m. Toshihiko recalls, "I rushed to the office upon hearing that things didn't look good and found the road outside already flooded to my ankles. The water was soon up to my knees. It didn't seem like the rain was gathering. It was more like the water was connected to the ocean and its level was increasing along with the increase of the tides. It was impossible to drive, and some of us even swam to the office, but there was nothing we could do. Our office and warehouse flooded. I can clearly recall that the carp we kept in the pond in the courtyard was swimming down the hall way."
On this night, a total of 2,643 houses flooded above floor level, 1,693 houses flooded under floor level, and the number of victims reached 10,000 people in Kojima.In neighboring Tamashima, an elderly person living alone, who failed to escape in time was found drowned in his house.

Typhoon Chaba caused serious damage, leaving 4 dead, 29 injured and 25,900 houses flooded in Okayama, Kagawa, and Hiroshima Prefectures. There were three main factors that enlarged the damage. First, was the increase in sea level, due to depressurizing of the typhoon. Second, was the strong winds that strengthened the waves, causing a phenomena called, "fukiyose." Third, was that this particular night happened to be spring tide when waters reached maximum height for that year.
Those who suffered damage in Kojima mention yet another factor. They had been witnessing the rise in tide daily. Interviews conducted at Motohama-cho and Shimotsui district in Kojima concluded that there has been at least a 20cm rise in the past 20 years. The majority of those in Kojima connect the damage suffered from typhoon Chaba to the rise in sea level as being caused by global warming. They are wary of another disastrous typhoon of the same level hitting in the near future. Mr. Mitsui of the Kojima Firehouse states, "It's really unconfortable when a typhoon approaches. Now that I experienced that night, it's completely different from before. It's just eerie."