New Orleans Blues

Now the scale of the disaster in New Orleans has had time to sink in, the media are starting to ask awkward questions about how the US has so badly fumbled its emergency response.

There are some telling points from a rather biting BBC News editorial on the problems with the disaster response for Hurricane Katrina:

The havoc of Katrina had been predicted countless times on a local and federal level – even to the point where it was acknowledged that tens of thousands of the poorest residents would not be able to leave the city in advance.

No official plan was ever put in place for them.

The famous levees that were breached could have been strengthened and raised at what now seems like a trifling cost of a few billion dollars.

The Bush administration, together with Congress, cut the budgets for flood protection and army engineers, while local politicians failed to generate any enthusiasm for local tax increases.

[…]

When President Bush told “Good Morning America” on Thursday morning that nobody could have “anticipated” the breach of the New Orleans levees, it pointed to not only a remote leader in denial, but a whole political class.

The Australian ABC News has a story on the US and international medias response to the handling of the crisis, and both the ABC and the BBC have reports on comments by rapper Kanye West criticising President Bush and according to the ABC report, rascism through neglect, quoting him as saying that America was set up “to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off, as slow as possible”.

For those wanting to help the best bet at present seems to be the American Red Cross.

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