Update March 22nd, 2010.
I have now created a new blog to describe my hobby of tracking hurricanes.
If you would like to read it then you can find it here
Hurricane Tracking Blog.
September 10th, 2005
Well, this is novel, sharing my thoughts, views and opinions with strangers, whatever next? I've always
thought of myself as being somewhat conservative and not prone to waving my arms around, jumping in the
air and shouting at the top of my voice. But, over the last week or so that has changed.
I was moved to distraction by the events that slowly unfolded in the States, an event that started off
as a sideshow but which ended in a nightmare - Hurricane Katrina. I watched in awe as the storm ravaged
through the gulf, half expecting it to fizzle out before it had chance to do any damage like most of them
do. I was stunned when it continued to barrel on across the gulf toward the Louisiana shoreline picking up
speed and intensifying as it went. I was dumbstruck as it smashed it's way into New Orleans, uprooted trees,
overturned cars and pulverized the city's defenses into submission. I was awash with emotion as the levees
crumbled releasing an unstoppable tide of death, destruction and misery on the old and the young and the
innocent. Rarely does one see such devastation in the developed world as we saw in the Ninth Ward that day.
I've only ever witnessed such scenes of calamity and utter despair during 9/11 or in the movies; but this
was not a movie, it was on TV, in my lounge. Whereas 9/11 was a sick, perverted, unavoidable act of man
against man, New Orleans was a telegraphed, avoidable force of nature.
I am not one for attributing blame after the event; that achieves nothing. Suffice to say that failings
were at the local, state and federal level. Incredible considering the four years since 9/11. Were no
lessons learned? What exactly is the meaning of 'preparedness' and 'homeland security'?
Over the next couple of days I watched helplessly as hundreds of desperate people moved around the city,
wading through chest high water carrying their meager possessions, standing outside their battered and
broken homes, crying uncontrollably. Mothers and fathers, grandparents, sons and daughters in the endless
quest to find their missing loved ones. Desperate times.
I witnessed some lucky people being airlifted to safety by the odd helicopter, others being dragged out of
the polluted water into the occasional boat. But the recurring image is of people standing atop roofs,
huddling together on balconies or clinging to trees, all vying for the attention of the viewer, all reaching
out for a helping hand. But it never came. Day after day. I found myself banging the sofa in frustration,
stamping on the floor in dismay and shouting at the TV - 'For God's sake, when is someone going to help
those poor people?'.
I actually felt relieved and thankful when the buses arrived to take the people to the stadium. As they
arrived I remember thinking to myself - 'they're the lucky ones'. How wrong could I have been. Who would
have believed at the time that those people were not being taken to safety but, in fact, were being
delivered into the pit - a hell-on-earth monstrosity with no water, no food, no medical aid, no police and
populated by the lowest dregs of society - the murderers, rapists, thieves and thugs. This was no safe
haven, this was a place where survival was the only goal.
Some time later, when the people were moved out of the stadium, there were harrowing scenes that
demonstrated just what those poor souls had been through - the bloodied bodies of those that never made it.
It is now just a memory, an indelible mark on the richest nation in the world. During those dark days I
remember hearing commentators coming out with the same statement time after time - 'the response is
something one would expect to see from a Third-world country, not the United States of America'.
A damning indictment indeed.
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