Questions Arise Over Warning System

Questions arise over warning system

Following the heavy rains in western Japan, questions are beginning to emerge. Some wonder whether people were given enough warning to leave areas threatened by rising waters. Others ask whether the high loss of life could have been avoided.

Muddy waters fill the streets of Ozu City in Ehime Prefecture. Four people died and 4,600 homes were damaged. The waters are believed to have reached up to 4.6 meters, sweeping away everything in their path.

The waters came from 2 dams upriver. Record rainfall filled their reservoirs to capacity. That's when authorities took the unusual step of opening up the sluice gates.

On Saturday morning, they were sending out thousands of tons of water every second.
On Wednesday, a land ministry official defended the decision. He said "If massive amounts of rain keep falling for a long period like this time, the dams come close to their full capacity. Ultimately we have to release around as much water as flows in."

Ozu City officials say they used an emergency warning system to alert people that the waters were coming.

But some people living along the river say otherwise.
Fukunori Hashimoto says "I don't remember hearing any warning about water release in the morning. I know we can't conquer nature and I wouldn't complain about my house being flooded. However, this could have been avoided if we'd had accurate information sooner."

This was Japan's worst weather-related disaster in more than 3 decades. Experts are looking into why so many people failed to flee.

They say communication is vital when disaster strikes. They're calling on officials to find ways to send out information in those situations on multiple platforms.