Last week, we discussed the possible etymology of Kinugawa (“Angry Demon River”), which has been the scene of intense flooding in eastern Japan this month. While the overflowing river has devastated the surrounding towns and landscapes in its wake, a single building in Joso City, Ibaraki Prefecture has been gaining particular attention for being the only structure within sight to stand firmly in place in the face of a deluge of muddy water.
The sole white house in question was constructed only three years ago using Hebel, Japan’s leading brand of autoclaved aerated concrete, as the primary building material. Panels made with Hebel concrete also contain reinforced steel beams for added strength. The owner of the house has specifically stated that he wanted to build a sturdy, two-storied Hebel Haus in the event of another natural disaster after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, and he included 18 fortified piles in the building’s foundation as part of its design. In fact, at the time of its construction, he even heard that “It would be safer to stay inside the house in the event of a disaster.”
▼ A net user shares photos from the building of the foundation of his own Hebel Haus.
津波で有休6連休ナマズん♥JC2 (@NAMAZUr) September 10, 2015
It appears that the advice given to him turned out to be true, since the house became the sole building left intact in the vicinity, and also supported the weight of two other houses that were washed away by the flood.
According to Fuji TV’s daily morning news show Mezamashi TV, the woman who lives in the house was stranded with her two children in the midst of the encroaching waters. They were rescued by the Japan Self-Defense Forces’ helicopter three hours after the river’s levees broke, along with a man clinging to a telephone pole nearby and a couple with their two dogs on the roof of one of the uprooted houses.
▼ Flooding (left: man clinging to telephone pole; center: parent and children on the balcony of the Hebel Haus; right: married couple and dogs on roof)
【旭化成・ヘーベルハウスの真実】 ・濁流で流れてきた家屋と激突→びくともしない。 ・下流の電柱おじさん、ヘーベルハウスに守られ助かる。 ・家が流された夫婦もヘーベルハウスに食い止められ、犬と一緒に救助される。 #ヘーベルハウス http://t.co/hJhKnTWwBw—
ゆる系速報・ぽん太くん (@JPNG5) September 10, 2015
▼ The moment of rescue during the afternoon of September 10
ヘーベルハウスがびくともしていない。 阪神大震災でも延焼を防ぎ、全壊しなかったのはヘーベルハウス。神戸はヘーベルハウスが多い。 http://t.co/3xSm1d43qQ—
melodyU (@kobemelody) September 10, 2015
The Japanese public has been so impressed with the sturdy house that it has actually spurred a jump in the stock prices of global Japanese chemical corporation Asahi Kasei, whose business includes the Hebel Haus brand. Way to go, Hebel Haus!