Lives devastated by Typhoon Hagibis Lives devastated by Typhoon Hagibis
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Lives devastated by Typhoon Hagibis

    NHK World
    Correspondent
    It's now one month since Typhoon Hagibis ripped through Japan and the return to normal for those hit hardest is still a long way off. Swelling rivers from the torrential rains collapsed river banks in many regions. Ninety-two people were killed and three remain unaccounted for. More than 85,000 homes are damaged and elderly farmers are suffering the most.
    The Chikuma River flooded over an area of about 950 hectares.

    Nagano Prefecture in central Japan is one of the most heavily affected regions. A collapsed bank on the Chikuma River, Japan's longest, sent water rushing over hundreds of hectares, killing two people in the immediate vicinity. Nagano is the country's second largest apple producer. About 80 percent of the orchards were flooded, leaving behind nothing but muddy fields.

    Apple farmer Kimie Shibusawa says she may have to give up.

    Kimie Shibusawa, 79, says she is giving up on her farm. She and her 86-year-old husband Norio had been producing up to 20 tons of apples a year. But their home, farm fields and machinery were swamped, and at this age, they are unlikely to recover the cost of repairs. Moreover, living in an evacuation shelter has weakened Norio's legs and he's now using a walking stick to get around.

    "When I think about my age, I think I just can't do it," said Kimie. "I want to. I worked so hard. The trees did too. We just started harvesting when the typhoon came," she said. "I can't even cry. There's nothing left." She added that some of their neighbors are also thinking about quitting or moving away from the area.

    Restoring farms in the flooded areas is beyond the means of aging farmers.

    Officials with the Land and Infrastructure Ministry say nearly 300 rivers in various parts of the country overflowed in the typhoon and at least 25,000 hectares of land were flooded.

    Total losses in farming and other industries are still being tallied. Agriculture ministry officials have put the loss so far to farms, fisheries and forestry from the severe storms in September and October at 2.8 billion dollars. That's the second highest figure for typhoon related losses since record keeping began in 1964. The ministry is putting together an aid package for farmers.

    Small and medium-sized businesses were also hurt. The industry ministry said losses to businesses as of the end of October totaled 4.4 billion dollars, another high not seen since the massive earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan in 2011.

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