Sunday, June 16, 2024

Japan mulls using expressway ramps for flood evacuations

The Tokyo metropolitan government, together with five wards vulnerable to flooding in the eastern part of the Japanese capital, has reached an agreement to utilise ramps connecting expressways and regular roads as emergency evacuation sites, local media reported on Monday.

About 20 ramps on the Metropolitan Expressway and the Keiyo Expressway, which traverse the five wards of Sumida, Koto, Adachi, Katsushika, and Edogawa, are slated to serve as potential evacuation sites, Xinhua news agency reported citing the local media.

The agreement was finalised in April, reported Yomiuri Shimbun, citing sources close to the metropolitan government and the wards.

Given that the five wards are traversed by rivers including the Arakawa and Edo rivers, which possess expansive low-lying areas, the looming threat of severe river flooding and towering waves presents a considerable risk of submerging these regions entirely.

Predictions indicate that the water level may rise to around 10 metres in certain locations and in cases where evacuation time is limited, authorities recommend that individuals “evacuate vertically” by seeking refuge on upper floors of apartment buildings or other elevated locations.

These ramps, the utilization of which aligns with the above strategy, will be made available to evacuees in the event of a Level 5 emergency safety warning issued by any of the aforementioned wards, representing the highest alert level prompting evacuation in response to disasters like river flooding.

Even in the event of expressway closures, emergency vehicles will require access to these lanes, necessitating the limitation of evacuation sites to ramps.

Due to capacity limitations, the use of expressway ramps as evacuation sites will be restricted to what is deemed absolutely necessary.

Evacuees are likely to be swiftly transported to secure locations via buses.

The Japanese government has encouraged local authorities to consider utilising elevated road sections in flood scenarios, following the massive 2011 earthquake which saw significant damage from tsunamis.

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