NY1 Reports: Meltdown's Effects On Minds Of Returning Village Residents
The meltdown of the Japanese nuclear power plant last year forced the evacuation of 100,000 people, many of whom are still displaced. NY1's Dean Meminger visited one town that is being prepared for the return of its residents and filed the following report.
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The village of Kawauchi has been a virtual ghost town for a year. Twelve miles from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, the village was evacuated. Homes, businesses and schools are empty.
"We have no students here, I'm very sorry about that. It is the worst thing I think," said Kawauchi High School Principal Toshihiko Takahama.
The cleanup of anything that might have radioactive contamination continues. This, as preparations have started for a welcome home celebration. During the first week of April, families are expected to move back to Kawauchi and school will resume.
"Looking forward to seeing the kids smile once again in a beautiful place and beautiful schools," Takahama said.
Takahama says every page of every book has been wiped along with all of the furniture. It's all in an attempt to clean away radioactive particles from the power plant that had a meltdown after the earthquake and tsunami.
"These things, the floors, the walls, the ceilings, the blackboards and the top of the shelves. Everything they clean up," Takahama noted.
As a precaution, trees and plants around the school have been removed and on the children's playing fields about two inches of soil was taken away.
Meantime, the owner of one soba noodle shop says he has to use his savings to keep the doors open.
"The village economy will not go back to the way it was because our village population was 2,900 and our economy was supported by two nearby towns of which are now in evacuated zones," said restaurant owner Shigeru Ide.
Although residents of Kawauchi Village are being encouraged to return home, those who live beyond a certain point can't come back as it's considered a part of the hot zone.
The village's mayor says he believes it's safe to return but admits no one knows exactly what will happen in years to come.
"In the future when energy policy is planned we need to be more humble. We cannot change the past so we have to think about what we can do for today," said Kawauchi Village Mayor Yuko Endo.
The mayor adds he knows the world is watching.