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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 September 2005, 15:18 GMT 16:18 UK
Katrina response: Has enough been done?
An official hands out bottled water in New Orleans
Victims and public figures have criticised the US government's response to Hurricane Katrina.

Here are a selection of your earlier e-mails on this subject.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

The sheer impotence of the US authorities is breathtaking
Graham Applin, Southampton, Hampshire
The sheer impotence of the US authorities is breathtaking. This is particularly true when one considers the fact that they knew about the hurricane in advance. One can accept the huge scale of the disaster and the incumbent problems but this is the US of A we're talking about...the Big Cheese, the richest and most powerful nation on earth and it has left its citizens to the whims of nature and the mob. If I was a US citizen I would be seriously questioning the competency of my elected officials.
Graham Applin, Southampton, Hampshire

I sat stunned watching reporters talking to victims who hadn't had food or water for two days. They can get reporters in but not food and water? They can drop sandbags but not food or water? Something is sorely amiss here.
Geoff Holland, Dubai, UAE

I am amazed that people think that the United States is so all powerful that a storm that destroys 90,000 square miles can't be recovered from immediately. Imagine no communications, no roads, no bridges, no train tracks, no electricity, no petroleum. The enormity of the task seems to escape people. Their hate for Bush and for America knows no bounds.
John, USA

Our troops in Iraq need to come home now. We need you!

The pity was that the US Goverment felt that its job was over once the warnings had been issued
Raja, Accra, Ghana
This disaster and the aftermath has shown the world that US (the only Superpower in the world today) was so very underprepared like any other under developed or developing country facing similar situation. The United States of America, despite the resources at its doorstep could not prepare itself adequately for this disaster. It did well enough by warning its citizens to evacuate well before the Hurricane's land fall but that applied to people who could afford to do so. The pity was that the US Govt felt that it job was over once the warning had been issued to its citizens to leave the area.
Raja, Accra, Ghana

I went and gave blood with the bulk of my work department yesterday. Thanks largely to Bush's policies, that's about all I can afford to give. I find myself feeling rather guilty about all this. I had hoped it wouldn't take this much of a 'god-smack' to teach people how wrong this administration's policies of 'starving the beast' actually are, but the lesson needs learning. Would that the cost weren't so high.
Michael Quezzaire-Belle, Belmont, MA, USA

The USA is the richest country in the world. It is the richest country this world has ever known. This is not the same as disaster in the third world. We need to ask what their government's priorities are if this is how they treat their own people. What nonsense is this 24 hours to clear emergency funds from congress?
margaret, Edinburgh Scotland

We all need to pull together and get aid to New Orleans as soon as possible
Emily, London, UK
I'm 16, so my opinion may not be completely balanced, but the pictures and images I have seen today of New Orleans have completely shocked me. No-one is ever prepared for what nature can throw at us. Look at the Tsunami, that killed hundreds of thousands of people, and we could do hardly anything to stop it. We all need to pull together and get aid to New Orleans as soon as possible to save the people that are there. Lawlessness needs to be sorted, rape? Looting? What has humanity come to? Please Bush, Blair, pull together, sort it out. It's a tragedy which will only get worse if we do nothing.
Emily, London, UK

The disaster response system in the US is embarrassing. Even our impoverished, third world countries tend to catastrophic events with much swifter action. Perhaps because we're actually experienced. This should humble an arrogant first-world. This might be the time to call out for our help.
Andreji, Bogota, Colombia

To those of you asking where the UN is, they have said: "The United Nations stands ready to assist the government and people of the United States. The UN responds to disasters upon requests from national governments? The UN has not been requested to assist in this case."? It seems that the Federal Government have even been too shocked, or too dazed, or too proud to think of asking for help. And please don't think the global community is silent or indifferent to the plight of the people in America, but just as your government has clearly taken time to realise the scale of this, so has the rest of the world. Please believe that our thoughts are with the people who have suffered through this tragedy.
Mattllo, UK

All the pictures in the press and on TV show that the people left to suffer the hurricane in New Orleans are black. I suppose all the white people got to safety. So four days after the hurricane struck, the thousands of people who are still stranded in New Orleans and not getting much help are black people. Just an observation, something that USA needs to reflect on I think.
W Davies, Bristol UK

It angers me that the government hasn't done more to help these people and also organizations such as the Red Cross. People in America want to help but aren't being allowed in. My family lives there and they aren't being allowed back to their home which wasn't even flooded. The organizations with the ability to get in their and help need to do so!
Jenn, Baltimore, MD, USA

Please correct me if I'm wrong... but I'm sure it was only a year or so ago that a hurricane hit a string of Caribbean islands. Before the hurricane had hit the Royal Navy sent ships to the area which arrived within hours of the hurricane passing. How come the American government didn't have the foresight to do the same?
James Harvey, St. Albans

Now donate to your Red Cross!
Bombay, Colorado, USA
There is another difference between this and the tsunami I believe non-us posters need to understand. In the Tsunami, our military was more ABLE to help. There are actually laws in the US, to prevent the military from being used on the US. This stems back to our creation, and the fear the military would be used to overthrow the civilian government. The result of this, our military can do more in other countries than here. In this case, it can be difficult, but it sure helps stop military coups that the rest of the world is so prone to. Just posting that you need to understand the scope of this disaster, our laws, our systems, before you assume how things work. Now donate to your Red Cross!
Bombay, Colorado, USA

The first responders are gone, the infrastructure is gone. No airport, port, train, road. You say? Where is the Federal Government?? They are spread all over three thousand miles of country with the majority on the east and west coast. They move with the speed of molasses in the best of times. You guys are just using this as an opportunity to yet again, bash the US.
A Veteran, in Oklahoma

Nature has a way of making corrections to what man has done to the environment, which has and will again resulted in huge losses of lives. We need to correct the pollution problems by using more solar power and battery operated homes, equipment, and cars, etc. Get rid of the need for oil and gas all together. The U.S. government should not leave people in the streets without help! I pray for all, especially the babies and the elderly that are desperate for help!
Enid Rivera, Baltimore

If this had happened in Asia or Africa we would have been bombarded by Government, TV and press appeals for help. Yet when it happens to our greatest friends and allies there is a hypocritical lack of appeals for help.
Les, Morpeth, Northumberland

To all the people posting "Where is the help from the world" - the world has been offering help, in spades. President George W Bush keeps saying "Thanks but no Thanks". What is happening in New Orleans is a national disgrace. I would also like to think the pro gun lobby are shut up permanently by the events, but I doubt that will happen.
George Bandas, Boston, USA

The UN has offered aid and assistance, but the USA administration is stalling on responding. Why is that?

I guarantee the response would have been immediate if the disaster zone had been Washington
Norman West, Truro, UK
I guarantee the response would have been immediate if the disaster zone had been Washington. A classic example yet again of inequality - after all they are only poor people. A total disgrace.
Norman West, Truro, UK

I would like to see European governments sending help rather than letters of condolences. Why not deploy rescue teams, medical experts, send financial support? I personally donated to the American Red Cross but would, for once, like to see my taxes being spent on something I do care about!
M Gardner, London

The government's response time is unacceptable. If Katrina hit the state I live in, Florida, GW Bush's response would be immediate. Last year when hurricane Ivan struck this state, GW Bush immediately sent aid (since his brother asked for help). Now with a disaster much greater and more devastating, GW Bush should've responded quicker than the Florida incident. Yet, he was on vacation, and didn't return from his vacation 'til later; 'til he learned that things were 'worse' than expected. I am/was a proud American, with lots of trust in the government. I'm very disappointed.
Christian, FL, USA

I'm quite amazed to see the troops going in carrying rifles 'locked and loaded'. Surely they should be carrying food, water and shovels?
Gordon, Fife, Scotland

Shocked - if the government responded like this in the UK we would be hammering at the door of 10 Downing Street.
Pete, London, UK

I cannot believe that so little appears to be happening to help the people of New Orleans
Linda Marchant, Tadley, Hampshire
Watching the reports, I cannot believe that so little appears to be happening to help the people of New Orleans. Where are the Aid Agencies? When the Asian Tsunami hit, we were bombarded with appeals for help from all over the place, yet no-one seems to be bothering to help the USA. Surely at least supplies of bottled water could be dropped in! It's a disgrace!
Linda Marchant, Tadley, Hampshire

This administration is a worldwide and now a domestic disgrace
Tom Winkle, DeKalb, Illinois

No! All I see federal officials doing is patting each other on the back while New Orleans is lawless anarchy. We have a military that can and does bomb any corner of the globe at will: there is no reason water and MREs could not have been air dropped within 24 - 48 hours after the disaster. The federal 'response' is a shameful disgrace. If there was ever a time for thinking outside the box, this is it, and I don't see it happening. This administration is a worldwide and now a domestic disgrace.
Tom Winkle, DeKalb, Illinois, USA

It's a big shame. It's all because those people are black, not so rich and don't matter to the US. They are not part of the society. If this had happened in NY or Washington, Penn. the response would have definitely been different. It's incomprehensible for a superpower to waste resources in wars and boast of robust action around the world when it cannot remove the little spec in its home. I am very disappointed and angry. The US has the largest army, trucks, space shuttles and yet they can't help.
Gordon, Nottingham

Many countries worldwide and the UN have offered help, why is Bush not accepting? It is obvious the USA was not prepared, (what happened to all the drills for a disaster of this magnitude, albeit in a scenario that was manmade, that Bush has been selling to the public and we have been paying for) and astounding that the clearest policy coming out of this is a shoot to kill looters. These people have nothing. Why shoot Americans who for the most part are looking for portable water, food, clothes. Surely there is a better use of this manpower than arming them to kill their own nationals who are in dire straits.

Rescue efforts are hampered by the sheer scale of the disaster
Dave, Richmond
This disaster has blasted an area the size of the UK. Rescue efforts are hampered by the sheer scale of the disaster and the physical impossibility of moving supplies and victims in and out of a region where bridges are out, roads are shredded, railways are torn to pieces and often the only lifeline is by helicopter.
Dave, Richmond, VA, USA

In north LA, there are families that have opened their homes and hearts to total strangers. We have dozens of refugees streaming into every town looking for somewhere to stay. The outpouring of help is heart-warming. I wish the rest of the world could see that story rather than the hooligans they see on TV. That is not the true picture of LA.
Kenny, Vivian, LA

As an anthropologist, it is apparent that what is happening in the American South is the result of a "perfect storm". It is not only a natural disaster but also a human disaster. For the last past 25 years the Republican political strategy called "starve the beast" has reduced spending on the public sector while enriching the private sector. This intensifies not only socioeconomic inequities, but also intensifies the decay of critical public infrastructure like roads, schools, hospitals, and even levees. Citizens still have the expectation that the public sector (government) will take care of them, while the people in power expect the private sector to replace the public sector in disaster relief.
Dan Cring, Lafayette, Louisiana, USA

A total feeling of helplessness swept over me
Kaye, Naples, FL USA
I am a Brit living in the USA and I cannot believe what is happening over here. I survived last season's hurricanes on the west coast of Florida with my home intact. We were very lucky. It feels like I am watching things unfold in a Third World country. I cried today as I watched the news, a total feeling of helplessness swept over me. Why are the army not there, why are people being left to die??
Kaye, Naples, FL, USA

There is a huge effort across this country to get help to people. I personally have been waiting for the call that we will be allowed into the disaster areas to go help. We are sitting here with supplies and people wanting to help but must have FEMA approval to go in. It is not just New Orleans that needs help. There are whole communities that are gone, completely destroyed. As I sit waiting for that call I can't help but fear what is waiting for us. People across our country are donating and gathering supplies. I don't know if I will even find enough gas to get down there. With no power there is no gas. There is still only 1 way in and out of New Orleans, people are shooting at rescue workings, all of these things are slowing the effort.
Ashlee, Georgia, USA

I can't help but think the British Navy could provide at least some relief to the people stranded in New Orleans, in a similar way it did after the Tsunami in Asia. Poor people in the Southern US are obviously overlooked by their own government, so we could help out. Free of charge.
Sam, Birmingham, UK

We become used to these sorts of images being shown on an all too frequent basis from the developing world
Garry, Amsterdam, Nederland
Watching the unfolding humanitarian disaster after Hurricane Katrina I am frankly amazed at the apparent lack of response, or delayed and insufficient response, from the city, regional and national government in the United States. We become used to these sorts of images being shown on an all too frequent basis from the developing world, but for the aftermath of a natural disaster, a disaster of which the authorities had days to prepare for, to result in this chaos in arguably the world's richest, most advanced country is appalling. I just hope that when the officials in charge are due for re-election to their positions that the people who have been affected the hardest, use their votes and show these politicians the way out.
Garry, Amsterdam, Nederland

Rather that apportioning blame we should just band together and help. By all means, if it keeps everyone happy, point fingers...afterwards.
Mags, Oxford, UK

The government may deserve a lot of criticism, but not as much as a lot of the people there deserve. Looting and murder are being justified by people with the excuse of trying to survive, but it is a lie, and how they justify rape as a survival tool is utterly beyond me. All of these actions just ensure that aid is slower and less readily available than it would have been in the first place.
Chris, UK

America is always the first to help other countries in trouble - where is the world wide response when America needs help? Seems awful quiet.
Jonathan, UK

New Orleans could be fixed with just a fraction of the money that the US has squandered in Iraq
Denise Nyland, Panama City, Florida, USA
I don't think that it is fair to spend billions of dollars trying to restore safety and urban infrastructures in the cities of Iraq when American taxpayers are stranded in attics and rooftops in New Orleans. New Orleans could be fixed with just a fraction of the money that the US has squandered in Iraq.
Denise Nyland, Panama City, Florida, USA

There are thousands of people without food, water and shelter living in fear of armed thugs looting, killing and raping people. Am I stupid to think that the government has enough under the circumstances? What I cannot understand is why will it take so long for the rescue efforts to reach New Orleans - it didn't take them much time to reach Iraq?
Raj, Towson, MD

It typifies the USA. I suspect that if this had been New York (or other northern town) there would have been plenty of aid - rather than armed troops.
Tom, Ipswich, UK

I cannot believe I am witnessing the horrifying and desperate images of devastation on one of the last superpowers on earth. This will undo George Bush in a way an act of terrorism never can. The cruel abandonment of desperate and dying Americans surely hasn't been decided on skin colour, has it? Liberty must be on her knees hanging her head in shame.
Mike Lipscombe, Manchester, UK

From what I have seen on the news the response to the New Orleans disaster is disgusting. Days after Katrina struck and still there is a lack of a well organised co-ordinated response. How can you tell people to go to one place and then have no plan to feed, water, and evacuate them?
Rachel, Oxfordshire, UK

The federal government failed to take appropriate proactive measures to deal with the impending crisis
Barry Nolan, Newcastle UK
Katrina was identified, monitored and tracked and they knew it was coming. Yet the federal government failed to take appropriate proactive measures to deal with the impending crisis. How would they cope with an 8.5 Earthquake in San Francisco with no notice? There are even bigger questions for the USA above and beyond those relating to the effects of this one event. Nature is sending out warnings about the impact of man's actions and we had better start listening.
Barry Nolan, Newcastle UK

For years, America and Americans have believed that tax is bad, and big government is bad government. Now they are faced with a massive disaster and their government doesn't have the right resources in the right place. We won't even talk about the war.
Robert Day, Coventry, UK

Absolutely agree - this is appalling. The lack of immediate aid is one thing but the lawlessness is totally unbelievable - you don't expect this kind of carry on in a first world nation. Women being raped, people being murdered, looting, thieving, and now bombs and explosions. What kind of people live in New Orleans for goodness sake? Sounds like a news report from Iraq.
Sara Dawson, UK, Basingstoke

Where is the United Nation? Where are the great countries of the world? We need help. Refugees need help. Help them. Help us. The US can not do it on its own. We need help. Where are you?
Virginie Bouchard, USA

The scenes, several days later from New Orleans, are a disgrace. Other US citizens should be ashamed that they can get on with their lives, whilst this suffering continues. And, one of their main concerns - lack of gas! You get plenty of it from your politicians.
Ann Hunter, Pickering, England

I'm stunned that a country like the USA can let this happen to their fellow citizens
Jean Pedder, Stirling Scotland
I totally agree with Mr Ebbert that the situation is a total disgrace, it seems there is very little relief aid or evacuation help going to these desperate people, I'm stunned that a country like the USA can let this happen to their fellow citizens. My Sri Lankan husband survived the tsunami last December and he is also shocked that a rich country like America have been so slow to help their own citizens in this disaster situation. Mr Bush shame on you.
Jean Pedder, Stirling Scotland

They knew it was coming, they knew it was big...but the authorities were too complacent, having survived hurricanes before. It's beyond belief that conditions could have become so desperate in a city in the richest and most powerful country in the world. It's a valuable lesson that nature is more powerful than man.
Michelle, London

This finally shows the US up for the morally corrupt country it is. If you don't have the money, you really are at the bottom of a scrapheap and shouldn't deserve any help or handouts. George W Bush shows how utterly inept he is.
Martin Noon, London UK

While there would always have been casualties after such a major hurricane, it does seem that the "small government" policies of the American administration have left them less able to prepare for and respond to major events. Poor people are left to "sink or swim"- literally in this case.
George, Edinburgh, Scotland

President Bush needs to resign because he will now be politically wounded by his lack of action. How do we believe that he can sort out Iraq when he can't sort out the mess on his own doorstep! It is awful to see humanity stoop to lawlessness just because there is no one to uphold it. The greedy, selfish and strong will always take advantage of situations like these.
Darren, Basingstoke, UK

We are trying our best. You have to put this in perspective
Tim, USA
We are trying our best. You have to put this in perspective. The devastated area is approximately 100,000 sq miles, the entire size of the UK is 93,000 sq miles, now think of that. It's not just the 20,000 at the super dome. It's the 300,000-500,000 that are stranded all over that large area. Think about saving 500,000 in an area the size of the UK with approx 200 helicopters. The people seem to be only getting the news about the super dome, those people are alive, we need to save the people everywhere, then fine enough food , water, and shelter for approx 1,000,000 (when it's all over). You just can't get enough water to feed a million sent to LA in 40 hours. My brother is down there, in the rescue effort. We sent down 30,000 bottles of water from New England , but that takes 2 1/2 days to get there. This is not sending a few bottles of water from Southampton to Portsmouth. Think of saving everyone from Scotland in 40 hours, feed, clothe and shelter them in less than 3 days, after you rescue them one at a time off there roofs.
Tim, USA

Yes I totally agree with him - come on, this is the one of the richest nations on earth. Why hasn't the city been evacuated already? Why aren't there more convoys? More food parcels? Why weren't the poor given help to get out before the hurricane struck? Rest of the nation scared of them? Yeah, some first world nation.
Julie, London

I think the US authorities have been way too slow to react to this - I think their response to the tsunami thousands of miles away was much more coordinated! However, we in the UK could learn from this. If there was a catastrophic storm surge in the North Sea and the Thames Barrier was breached, could London find itself in a similar situation?
Simon, Taunton


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