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.
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