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Last Updated: Friday, 2 September 2005, 15:21 GMT 16:21 UK
Press blames anarchy on rescue delays
New York Daily News front page
The scenes of anarchy and helplessness following national disaster on the US Gulf coast has provoked a great deal of hand-wringing in the US press.

"The situation in New Orleans, which had seemed as bad as it could get, became considerably worse yesterday with reports of what seemed like a total breakdown of organised society," says the New York Times.

The paper says that the government failed to rise to the challenge - despite New Orleans' susceptibility to flooding being well known - and that the poor response was compounded because many local National Guard troops were away in Iraq.

In this moment of need, we wonder who will help us?
Biloxi Sun Herald

"It's already a very costly game of catch-up," the Times says.

"But the hard lessons of this week must be learned and incorporated into the nation's plans for future emergencies, whether these come in the form of natural disasters or terrorist attacks."

The Los Angeles Times raises questions about the lack of preparation.

"This disaster was all but scripted; why wasn't the response?" it asks.

"Why did it take so long to evacuate the poor, the elderly and the tourists unlucky enough to be caught with no way out of town? Where was the food and water? Why were the police left to choose between rescuing people from the floods and saving them from predators?"


The Washington Post also blames local and federal government for mishandling the situation.

"The sluggish, initial response... has embittered and inflamed tens of thousands of people awaiting relief, most of them poor and black and many of them old and sick," it said in an editorial.

In the hurricane-hit region itself, at least one of the papers seems to be more forgiving.

"At least President Bush realises how valuable we are," says the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

"He flew over the storm-ravaged areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama on Wednesday afternoon and seems sincerely sorrowful for all the people whose lives have been irreversibly changed by this storm," it says.


Stan Tiner, editor of the Biloxi Sun Herald, appeals on behalf of local victims.

"The needs of our people are so incredibly great as to cry out for attention," he writes.

"Some say our plight coupled with the unbelievable state of degradation in New Orleans represents the greatest humanitarian crisis in American history.

"In this moment of need, we wonder who will help us?"

In Houston to the west, where thousands of refugees have been taken, the Houston Chronicle puts the blame for the disintegration of civilisation in New Orleans on inadequate protection by the government.

"Looting and violence are unconscionable but were invited by the failure of federal, state and local authorities to reassert order or even provide basic sustenance for storm survivors," it says.

"Hurricane Katrina will be remembered less for its rampaging winds and tides than for the inadequate disaster preparations it exposed."

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