Saturday, September 03, 2005
My heart goes out to the people of New Orleans and the surrounding areas.
It speaks volumes for the magnitude of the situation that the news reporters dispatched by UK agencies are people we are more used to seeing reporting from Afghanistan, Iraq, African famines, or the Asian tsunami.
Even so, while discussing the situation with friends, relatives, and workmates, everyone is absolutely agog at the delays in getting the aid effort moving.
If there is one nation on earth you would expect to deal with this situation, it's the USA.
On UK TV there were projections of disaster prior to Katrina hitting. Of overwhelmed sea defences, massive flooding, serious loss of life. We knew an evacuation had been ordered.
Consequently, after the storm hit and the damage became apparent, I expected to see a hybrid of Apocalypse Now and The Longest Day unfolding on the news feeds.
Instead it's been more Escape From New York and Clockwork Orange.
I expected swarms of helicopters covering the city, marine landing craft, columns of National Guard poised to assist.
Instead, the only overwhelming impression I've gotten is one of inertia and complacency. In the immediate aftermath, there seemed to be more news helicopters than rescue helicopters.
Even today, as the helicopters finally arrive in numbers, there are still people trapped on rooftops, reporters are seeing people dying of exhaustion and dehydration, there's talk of the evacuation being complete in ANOTHER 48 hours.
As I type, I'm watching ludicrous reports of people trapped in areas where local civilians have banded together to form a rescue fleet, but are being blocked from gaining access by the authorities.
All hands to the pump seems to be an alien phrase to some of those in control. Imagine Churchill sending the navy to block the flotillas heading for Dunkirk in 1940.
I wonder if control is the key word here. One can't help but get the impression Washington is pretty keen to downplay the enormity of the event. Maybe letting too many civilians close to the heart of the disaster does not suit their plans.
It's an incredulous situation. The hurricane season has not yet passed.
For the sake of the stranded masses, I sincerely hope the government has finally got their act in gear. Better late than never.
I don't see the point in finger pointing right now. There are higher priorities.
In the weeks to come, when all survivors have been rescued, and order restored, there needs to be some serious thinking done, and perhaps heads shall roll then.
For the present time, my thoughts and best wishes are with all those involved.
Posted by Div at 10:00 pm