New Orleans: A Dutch view (and an American one)

Not my view… I don’t have the expertise, don’t live in the area referred to, and am not actually sure the 1995 Rhine/Meuse floods are even comparible to the effects of a Cat.3 hurricane (in my memory, the 1995 floods were merely a very local nuisance), but for what it’s worth, Laura Rozen quotes a message from Dutch broadcaster and human rights activist Frank Tiggelaar:

Then, in just under two days authorities staged a forced evacuation of almost half a million people (total Dutch pop. is 16 million) and 2 million heads of cattle, pigs etc. It was the most orderly mass-operation I have ever seen.

I…witnessed how hundreds of ambulances, army trucks and dozens of medicopters (including German and Belgian air-borne operating theatres) brought in hospital patients, people from care homes and the disabled from the disaster areas. Roads were closed to all other traffic, in hospitals across the country an overwhelming – and fortunatly unnecessary – number of staff and volunteers were on stand-by.

The material damage was incredible, but there were no casualties, there were three meals every day for every temporarily displaced man, woman and child, all cows were fed and milked, there was no looting. National public TV within days set up a disaster charity show which raised over 60M guilders (EUR 30M) to pay for damages not covered by insurance.

What I’m seeing on TV now is a third-world country with a government unwilling or incompetent to fulfill its tasks. I feel very, very sorry for the residents of the area.

(Rosen:)What did it take? A plan and political will, both shockingly absent in this administration.

I’ll keep an eye out for more views from the Netherlands.

Update, commenting on my own post: "not actually sure the 1995 Rhine/Meuse floods are even comparible to the effects of a Cat.3 hurricane". But that’s the point, isn’t it? We will never know if the 1995 flood was comparable in effects to what the hurricane did, because by the time the floodwater hit, we’d got half a million people out of there with enough time to spare to go back and fetch the cows. That’s how good we were at the time, and that’s how good the American government ought to have been but wasn’t.

This should have consequences. Like the guys at Something Awful wrote on the emergency version of their homepage:

I am ashamed of my country’s government in a universal way right now. Republicans, democrats, opportunists, it doesn’t matter; they’re all guilty in this situation. In a magical world where justice is actually served most of these people would not have jobs in a month or two. Instead the people without jobs will be the millions who have lost everything and found their government with its back turned. Remember that people are still dying because of this incompetence. Remember that when each and every one of these fools appears on TV for a photo op or complains about “placing blame later,” because placing blame now is the only hope America has to change the situation.