Tuesday, July 24, 2007
This is not Britain's Katrina
Interesting being one of the many correspondents covering this flooding disaster, one who also happens to be an American citizen. You hear journalists and a few flood victims talking about how these devastating floods - the worst flooding England has seen in some 60 years - as Britain's Katrina. They are, of course referring to the 2005 Hurricane that devastated much of the south and gulf coast areas of the United States.

And while some British opposition politicians are criticizing Prime Minister Gordon Brown's party for allegedly not taking enough heed to years-old official warnings that this country's flood defense system could not cope with an unprecedented incident like this - this isn't Katrina.

Following initial chaos, there seems to be a coordinate effort to get help to those who need it most in a timely manner.
Unlike the Katrina aftermath, there isn't widespread lawlessness here. There aren't police officers walking away from their posts. There aren't bodies abandoned on the road, or floating in the water, and so far, no apparent disparities between who gets help when.

Of course, there is widespread devastation. Personal and agricultural and business losses will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars...not to mention the emotional trauma of losing everything one owns to putrid waters.

But what I am seeing is an overwhelming 'can do' spirit, flood survivors uttering the very British we will 'just get on with it' phrase I've grown accustomed to hearing. I've seen ordinary citizens working alongside government and military teams to help the elderly, the weak and needy. I'm thinking of one rubbish collector helping distribute water bottles at a local government council building - it was close to midnight, and he'd been lugging those heavy water boxes to flood survivors all day. Anyone else would be exhausted: he said he was pleased to know he's doing something to help. And that he'd be back in the morning.

--From Alphonso Van Marsh, CNN International Correspondent, in Tewkesbury.
Our brothers and sisters in England obviously have more of a sense of decency towards their fellow man than those here in America. In the Katrina coverage all I saw was people looking out for number one, turning a blind eye to others in need and blaming every one else. The selfishness of people these days is what made a natural disaster a humanitarian disaster.
If we could have gotten to the Katrina victims immediately after the hurricane, we would have. Roads were closed and even official help was blocked from entering. When Americans could get in, we did. As you can see, I'm taking issue with your biased view of how Americans reacted after Katrina. Oh, and yes, many of us gave money and goods to the Red Cross when we couldn't be there ourselves.
I agree with most of your assessment, however there have been "apparent disparities between who gets help when." The South of England has always been favored over the North and we see this again when the politicians (and media) suddenly discover theres floods in England, though they have been going on in the North for weeks. So yes there is a disparity, dear correspondent.

just a question... why do CNN.com has no Space, Science and Technology Blog(s)?

As a Brit living in the US I find the comparison between Katrina and the current flooding in the UK somewhat unfortunate. Katrina was a catastrophic event on a much greater scale, severely effecting a great many more people than the current flooding in Britain. Britain is not used to such severe weather, and does not experience hurricanes or anything close to it. The comparison is therefore more than a little insensitive to the victims of Katrina who suffered a far worse fate. I can only imagine that this unfortunate comparison has been made by Britain's tabloid media who thrive on sensationalising any national crisis, especially given the opportunity to attack the liberal government they so much despise.
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