Dozens were left with little to no food after severe snowfall disrupted food distribution in eastern Japan, also forcing stranded passengers to endure empty stomachs as they wait out the harsh storm.
Delivery of food supplies and other daily commodities was stalled because of the snow that shut many thoroughfares and leaving convenience stores with a shortage of food items.
Stranded drivers braved the cold to get some food after hours of being stuck in the road but found near-empty shelves in convenience stores.
“There was very little food at the convenience store, so I’m sharing some rice balls and other things with strangers,” said a 33-year-old truck driver from Toyama Prefecture, who was stranded for more than 30 hours on the National Highway Route 18 in Annaka, Gunma Prefecture.
A 7-Eleven convenience store along National Highway Route 4 quickly ran out of stocks as drivers caught in the huge traffic jam bought boxed lunches and rice balls one after the other.
“We don’t know when we’ll receive more goods,” Mayumi Murakami, the manager of the 7-Eleven said.
Commuters rushed to National Highway Route 4, which runs parallel to the Tohoku Expressway in Fukushima Prefecture, after the expressway was closed. This led to congestion that stretched over 30 kilometers.
In Yamanashi Prefecture, National Highway Route 20, Chuo Expressway, and other roads that connect the region to Tokyo remained through Sunday.
A supermarket in Kofu, the capital city of Yamanashi, ran out of many fresh food items, precooked dishes, bread and other foods. Officials limited purchases of instant ramen noodles to five items per family.
A gas station in the same city said their supply is running low after people stocked up on kerosene, used in home heaters.
At least 19 people died after the weekend snowstorm, which damaged buildings, stranded thousands of train passengers and motorists, and cut off supply routes for entire communities.
Flights were also grounded at Haneda Airport in Tokyo due to the severe weather.
By Maesie Bertumen