Mayor Idogawa says he knew it was the end.
Journalist Hiromichi Ugaya compiled a togetter of the press conference by the mayor of Futaba-machi on February 11, 2012.
Futaba-machi is where part of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant is located (Reactors 5, 6). The town's function has been moved to Kazo City in Saitama Prefecture, and the mayor, Katsutaka Idogawa, is now demanding that his town of about 7,400 residents be relocated instead of "decontaminated".
Ugaya says Mayor Idogawa held three separate press conferences, one for TV, one for newspapers, and one for independent journalists. I haven't looked carefully yet, but I don't see any coverage at the websites of major newspapers.
Mayor Idogawa said:
There was no instruction from the government as to where to evacuate, or how to evacuate.
The town was not told of the vent, and the vent was carried out while there were lots of people still in town.
What looked to be the insulation materials from the plant fell like snowflakes on them, and he knew they were finished.
The following is my translation of most of the remarks by Mayor Idogawa, as tweeted by Ugaya, who was at the conference:
Current situation of Futaba-machi in exile, as narrated by the journalist Ugaya:
Futaba-machi is one of the "municipalities with nuclear power plants", where Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant is located. The entire town was designated as "no entry zone" and all 6400 [sic] residents have evacuated. It is the size of Nerima-ku [in Tokyo]. The town hall has relocated to Kazo City in Saitama Prefecture. I [Ugaya] met the mayor at the temporary town hall of Futaba-machi.
The temporary town hall is located in Kazo City, Saitama. They use the high school building that has been closed. About 500 Futaba-machi residents still live there. I am surprised. Still that many people living in the shelter, instead of living in apartments or other temporary housing arrangements.
Mayor Idogawa's recollection on the day of Reactor 1 hydrogen explosion (3/12/2011):
Residents of Futaba-machi have been deprived not only of their past but also of their future. They have been deprived of the most precious thing that no amount of compensation from TEPCO could buy.
"Which direction?" "How do we evacuate?" There was no evacuation instruction from the national or prefectural government. So we looked at the flag in front of the town hall, figured out the wind direction, and decided which way to evacuate.
The scenario of the annual evacuation drills was "Power is lost, and recovers in about 3 hours, and the reactor cooling system comes back online". The drills were useless in the real-life accident.
Residents had to flee in their own cars. Kawamata-machi [northwest of Futaba-machi, just beyond Iitate-mura] had just decided to accept evacuees, so we used the emergency communication system and called out desperately to the residents to somehow go to Kawamata-machi.
We weren't told of the "vent" [of Reactor 1] that the government decided to do. The vent was carried out while the residents were still in town. I wonder if they [the government] think of us as Japanese citizens. This is like pre-Meiji Restoration [when there was no notion of citizens of a nation].
On March 12, as the residents were fleeing, I was in front of Futaba Kosei Hospital guiding the hospital patients and elderly people from the nearby senior citizens' home to a bus [for evacuation] when the first hydrogen explosion took place. There was a dull "thud".
"Oh no, it finally happened," the mayor thought. After a few minutes, small debris that looked like glass fiber insulation materials came falling down from the sky like large snowflakes. "Big ones were this big", the mayor puts his thumb and index finger together to form a circle.
Futaba Kosei Hospital is only 2 kilometers away from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. About 300 people, including municipal workers, doctors and nurses, watched the flakes of insulation materials fall like snow, stunned. The mayor thought, "We're finished."
The mayor looks back and says, "That was a very, very strange sight. It was like a movie". Not knowing what to do, he just dusted off his clothes with his hand.
The sight of some filament falling from the sky, shining, was also seen by people in Iitate-mura, and Namie-machi.
About "We're finished" remark and the mayor's health:
I [Ugaya] asked the mayor who was doused with "dust from Fukushima I Nuke Plant", "Did you think it was dangerous?" He answered, "Even today, I think "We're finished"." "What do you mean?" I asked. He said "Nosebleed hasn't stopped."
"Nosebleed hasn't stopped. If I blow my nose it bleeds. Sometimes the blood drips. I don't know what's going on, whether the nose is too dry."
"Ive lost almost all body hair from chest down, all the way down to the legs. I noticed it when an old man sitting next to me in "sento" (public bath) said to me, "Hey your skin's smooth like a woman." Pubic hair remains. It's uncomfortable without body hair, because my underwear clings to the skin."
About TEPCO employees who came to Futaba-machi town hall:
Since the accident started on March 11, there were 2 TEPCO employees at the town hall. They were the regular PR department personnel. But they didn't tell us anything about meltdown or hydrogen explosion. In retrospect, the color was drained from their faces. They may have known something [about meltdown and hydrogen explosion].