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September 02, 2005

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Logan Anderson

Yes, the response has left much to be desired, but I think we should all remember that it was just Monday night that the levees were breached. Search and rescue missions were called off because of darkness. Flooding was rampant Tuesday and Wednesday, and it was not until Wednesday afternoon -- at the earliest -- before aid could begin to trickle into the city. Troops began arriving en masse Thursday.
We're talking about mounting a war effort on the scale of the first Gulf war in just matter of days -- with the infrastructure of the area we're heading into wiped out.
And the area is not just metro New Orleans. According to the NYTimes, the three-state disaster encompasses 90,000 SQUARE MILES.
For as much to have been done already as has been done is nothing short of a miracle.
Yes, the death toll in New Orleans is going to be staggering. In the Times-Picayune series printed three years, the Red Cross estimated that close to 100,000 people would refuse or be unable to evacuate. As far as death estimates, the Red Cross was predicting upwards of 25,000 in a worst-case scenario.
I don't believe for one millisecond that aid has been slow to arrive because of the race or class of the victims left stranded in the city. America simply is NOT like that in the 21st century. In our recent history, yes ... but not now.
What the rescuers are facing in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast is a logistical nightmare of biblical proportions.

omih

As a Brit watching it all unfold I find it incredible. Sure the disaster was of biblical proportions but for a nation as rich and powerful to be left in such disarray beggars belief. America looks like the third world.

There is one more issue which may have been mentioned so far but I haven't come across it.

The continued inability for the USA, and more specifically Bush, to get on board with efforts to limit climate change and join the Kyoto agreement have met with real distaste from the rest of the world. Are incidents of extreme weather such as this due to climate change? I guess it will become an issue sooner or later. Even if there is no link then the incidence of floods and natural disasters will continue as long as global warming continues.

One more thing, the comments on "political hay" - fair enough if it is just self publicising - but no one should just sit back and blame this debacle on an "act of God" alone.

Logan Anderson

In response to omih re: a global warming/Kyoto/Katrina link, one has to look at the historical record of violent storms during the Atlantic hurricane season.
The 70s and 80s were relatively mild, the 50s and 60s rather violent -- my point, is that the weather works in cycles. A couple of global-warming activists in the scientific community have posited a link between the current violent hurricanes of the last dozen or so years, but experts in the field have cast serious doubts on their thesis.
I also have a problem with people viewing America's response to this disaster through the lenses of their distaste and hatred for Bush. Americans have donated $404 million to relief efforts in just a matter of days. Americans donated millions to tsunami relief and sent troops and ships to the area to help in recovery efforts. The list of relief efforts mounted by this country under this president could go on.
How people here and abroad view this disaster has to be put in perspective. Nothing like this has happened in this country for more than a century. You can run all the drills you want, but until the real disaster strikes, ... well, you get my drift.
It would be a great pity if people abroad look upon Katrina and her aftermath and use it as an excuse simply to shore up their hatred for this country.

omih

I think my feeling is this:

It is absolutely awful what has happened in the USA.

But certainly it appears that society, in New Orleans, was so close to breakdown that this horrific act of nature tipped everything over the edge way too easily.

Tell me, in situations like this why is it only America that suffers looting? How close is American society to breakdown if the second the emergency services' backs are turned all hell breaks loose.

As for climate change. I am sorry but I don't buy the anti-Kyoto point of view. It's largely simply lobbying funded by corporations whose interests are boosted by continuing to damage the environment. There are no private interests (except the obvious) in reversing climate change. But a lot of people do have a lot of money invested in maintaining the status quo.

Suppose you are right and the climate change stories are potentially nothing more than scaremongering. Can you be 100% certain of that? Can anyone?

In the meantime is it worth taking the risk it isn't true. Global warming, ice caps melting etc? Should we risk this if there is any doubt at all?

And besides - isn't limiting pollution worth doing anyway? Even if only to safeguard the beauty of our environment as a whole?

I'm a Brit. I live in Vietnam. I work and socialise with people from many nations. I count many Americans as amongst my best friends. But yes I will admit to being ant-American - if only as far as Bush, his supporters and the Christian fundamentalist crew.

And for all those people who are anti-American - then the single most damning thing (in many ways even worse than Iraq) was Bush's dismissal of Kyoto as "not in US interests".

That was quite shocking and heralded a new era of arrogance and ignorance in the USA. If anything it was that which started anti- US feelings, which were later built on by Iraq.

And as much as people realise what a horrific thing has happened in New Orleans - how many people outside of the USA will offer help? Should the rest of the world subsidise the efforts of a country that offers such massive tax cuts to the rich and which spends so much on weaponry? Maybe this is unfair, but this will be the attitude.

America's financial strength has most of the world under its thumb. I can't imagine that people will now ignore that and donate money to the country.

As for the money donated by the government to-date - I wonder how much that compares with the cost of implementing climate change reductin methods.

Perhaps the money saved by not following Kyoto should be the first dollars in the pot.

Can Sar

I am amazed at your optimism, especially after having been a reporter for so long. I do not mean this in a negative way at all, I am glad that not everyone in your kind of position is completely jaded.

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