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Monday, September 26, 2005

Britons consider US storm response

Massive evacuations, emergency planning and quick response to environmental hazards have many people in other parts of the world asking: what could America have done better, what did we do right in response to the havoc wrought by hurricanes Katrina and Rita,? Are there lessons to be learned? We asked European Desk Editor, Nidhi Kaushik to talk to people on the street in London and learn what others are thinking as Americans cope with disaster. Here is her report.

Kevark Djansezian, AP

"Hurricane Katrina: Al-Qaeda is claiming responsibility for it." was just one of the reactions in the UK. On a more serious note, when asked: Why do you think it took so long to evacuate the city?

  • Jason - Ayrshire - responded, "Thousands are now feared dead and it is only now that the media are beginning to ask any sort of relevant questions! Last year Cuba managed to evacuate over one million people before a similar hurricane hit its shores, not one life was lost, yet the world's super power idly sits back with a false smile and shrugs its shoulders? "

  • Lynn - London - said, "Absolutely sickening! The U.S. can get supplies into Iraq in 24 hours but it takes them over 5 days to get supplies to their own country!"

  • Esther - Nottingham, "The aftermath of Katrina is sad and terrible and my heart goes out to the people that survived. Right now there is confusion and anger among the survivors and all are saying "Where's the President?" Well he's the guy who's leading the fight on global terrorism and now finding the means to help and provide means for those who have survived the aftermath of Katrina."

  • Ali - Bradford, "Where is the help the World's biggest superpower should be able to provide for its citizens? Would it kill Bush to accept the help of those who are experienced with the aftermath of natural disasters, such as Rapid UK? He may argue that America has the resources to fend for themselves - but if they do, where are they?"

Concerned about the environment? some answered:

  • David - Wiltshire , "The world's weather is getting worse year after year. In fact, the longer Bush takes to realize that America is one of the big reasons for this, through pollution; the longer it will be before we can try to sort it out. I feel for the people affected by this tragedy but we have to take some responsibility for what we've done to the state of the planet."
    The Britons are not happy with the way things were handled by the president but their heart goes out to the people who are suffering and would like to do what they can to help.
    "Stop the blame game."

  • Janet - Surrey, "There has been too much wasteful armchair quarterbacking on this event. Please, it is time to stop, look ahead, and plan for the future. Complaining about the past is just that, complaining. And it's a fact that no one is without fault in this disaster, including the people who lived there and saw no reason to do their own planning. Hindsight is wonderful if anyone can figure out a way to use it. But looking back and saying, "We should have done this...." is no where near as valuable as thinking about what to do, independently, and as a nation, when the next disaster comes.

  • Stanley - Lancaster, "I have yet to understand why so many Americans living in USA seem to believe that Europeans hate them. This is simply not true. Disagreeing with decisions that the American government makes does not mean that there is general hatred towards the people of America. The truth is that countries all over the world have offered to help by sending manpower as well as technical equipment to the disaster area and many offers have either yet to be accepted or specialist teams from other countries who have flown to New Orleans have yet to be allowed into the disaster area. The victims of hurricane Katrina deserve all the help they can get, of course they do. I do not think it is right to argue about who is to blame for the sluggish relief efforts and trade insults whilst forgetting that it is the victims of this tragedy who deserve to be the center of discussion - all the people who have lost everything but their lives in the wake of Hurricane Katrina."

  • "Dear United Kingdom, thanks for the rice pudding in the military ration packets. Such comfort food in a time like this. We in America salute you." Suzanne - USA,

Times, 11th September 2005

"Bush bungled Katrina crisis, say Britons"

"An overwhelming majority of Britons believe that President George W Bush has mismanaged the response to Hurricane Katrina, a Sunday Times poll has found. Fully 86% of people said his handling of the crisis was "bad" or "very bad", while 70% said he was a generally incompetent president."

By almost three to one, 63% to 23%, people think the response to the hurricane would have been speedier and more effective if most victims had been white and middle class. By 67% to 19% they think race and class divisions in America are as bad as ever.

The poll of a representative sample of 1,856 adults, carried out on September 8-9 by YouGov, the online pollsters, is the first major test of UK public opinion on the crisis." Read More at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-1775072,00.html

"Hoping for the best:" Times, Friday 23rd September 2005, "Mr. Bush determined to avoid mistakes that preceded the catastrophe in New Orleans, announced that he would visit Texas today to oversee preparations."Let's hope that things are handled in a better fashion this time for Rita.

By Nidhi Kaushik - London
Editor, European Desk

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