In Fukushima City Shelter, Evacuees Imagine Future In this Japanese city about 40 miles from the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, the nuclear crisis is hampering the earthquake recovery and dominating life. Owing to radiation warnings in their towns, some 1,300 people now live in the gymnasiums, workout rooms and hallways of the Azuma Sports Complex.
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In Fukushima City Shelter, Evacuees Imagine Future

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In Fukushima City Shelter, Evacuees Imagine Future

In Fukushima City Shelter, Evacuees Imagine Future

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MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

NPR's Jason Beaubien was in Fukushima City today, about 40 miles from the plant.

JASON BEAUBIEN: Fifty-year-old Noriko Imura is staying at the shelter with two of her children. She's from the town of Namie, which is about five miles from the reactor.

NORIKO IMURA: (Foreign language spoken)

BEAUBIEN: As snow blows outside, it's still chilly in the facility, but volunteers pass out blankets and sweaters. Food is distributed three times a day. The water is drinkable. Imura has no idea when or if she'll be able to return home.

IMURA: (Foreign language spoken)

BEAUBIEN: In downtown Fukushima City, roughly 200 emergency management officials are crammed into a government office building. This is the local war room for monitoring the nuclear disaster. Technicians update charts with the latest radiation readings, phones ring and bureaucrats race in and out.

KIKO KATSUHIRO: (Foreign language spoken)

BEAUBIEN: Kiko Katsuhiro, a spokesman for the emergency management team, flips through a binder with charts of radiation levels in different parts of the prefecture. He says the radiation levels are highest closest to the reactor, and this has led to the ban on milk and leafy vegetables produced in the entire area.

KATSUHIRO: (Through translator) The standard that the entire country of Japan has decided on is that once a certain amount of radiation is detected in these vegetables, these products, that we cannot sell them anymore. This has happened here, therefore we have taken the appropriate measures.

BEAUBIEN: The mayor of Fukushima, Seto Takanori, says here, 30 miles from the coast, there wasn't very much earthquake damage.

SETO TAKANORI: (Foreign language spoken)

BEAUBIEN: The mayor says people here are worried, even though the government says they shouldn't be, about the air they're breathing and the water they're drinking. But he says if the winds shift and the radiation increases, he's not leaving.

TAKANORI: (Foreign language spoken)

BEAUBIEN: Jason Beaubien, NPR News.

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