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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 September 2005, 09:32 GMT 10:32 UK
Hurricane Katrina: What next?
Recovery workers in Mississippi
How can the affected region begin to rebuild its communities?

Rescuers are going house-to-house in search of survivors following the hurricane.

The authorities have warned that thousands are feared dead.

President George W Bush revisited the disaster area on Monday and pledged long-term help for the region.

What is the next step for the region hit by Hurricane Katrina? Has enough been done to help the victims?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

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

Katrina is a defining moment for America. It has exposed its fault lines
Mike, USA
Katrina is a defining moment for America. It has exposed its fault lines. There is no national health care; there is no real housing policy. There is no safety net for those who have lost their jobs and homes. Putting pink wrist bands on victims looks like a way to ID people but it also treats them like a cost factor. I hope America is not repeating the history of Rome.
Mike, USA

Student evacuees from colleges affected by hurricane Katrina will be staying at the gym at my university, which can hold up to 575 people temporarily. The South-eastern conference schools are reaching out to students affected by the devastation Katrina left in Louisiana and Mississippi. It seems surreal, worse than 11 September because of the slow federal response to rush to the aid of the victims.
Sharon Roy, Watkinsville, Ga, US

As I read many of the comments made by UK and American contributors, I am shocked by how few understand how our nation and its governments are related. If one were to follow this carefully it would be evident that everything that could be done was and is being done.
Frank Eugene Suter, South Beach, Fl, USA

It was the responsibility of the mayor of New Orleans to use public transportation, buses and cars to evacuate the people, and those buses are sitting under water right now. If he did his job, those people would have gotten out of there five days ago.
Vera, Melrose Park, Illinois, USA

There is always more that could be done. The failure by local New Orleans leaders to employ resources such as school buses to evacuate people without transportation has made this 1000 times worse.
Tyrone Mack, New Orleans, USA

The mayor and governor dropped the ball. If not for President Bush, there would not have been an evacuation order. The city police literally abandoned their posts. The Federal government has done all it can do; it was the state and local government that should have taken the lead, just as NYC mayor Guliani did on 11 September.
Brian Hair, Illinois, USA

President Bush has done more than enough. He has toured the devastated areas personally, and is doing all in his power to aid. I think the question you should pose is, are other countries doing enough to help us in our time of need? I am a proud citizen of the USA, and for many decades we have been the first to aid other countries in times of crisis. Let's see if we get the same support that we have given time after time to those in need.
Lisa Strausbaugh, Chillicothe, Ohio USA

Too often we just want to leave it all to the Federal Government to clean up
Elizabeth Watkins, Yakima, Washington
I agree that it is a mess, and I really feel sorry for all those people. They are in a terrible fix right now, but I think that there should have been a little more preparation on the local level years ago. In our state we have been being encouraged to have 72 hour kits to help out in time of a disaster of any kind. They say they are very important because it usually takes at least that long for any kind of relief to show up. It seems to me that a city almost entirely ringed with water and below sea level should have had some kind of plan for just this type of thing happening!!! Too often we just want to leave it all to the Federal Government to clean up afterwards.
Elizabeth Watkins, Yakima, Washington

I just spent the day working with evacuees who were flown into our city and given residence in our Convention Center. I have noticed so much criticism on this forum about our national government not doing enough. I can speak from experience that at least our local governments are stepping up and helping to alleviate the misery bestowed on the hurricane victims. The outpouring of goods, money, and volunteers in the city of Austin was overwhelming.
Jenna, Austin, Texas, USA

This is the 21st century! Why are people being left without any basic help in a society which we say is the best in the world? It is appalling that a country as large as ours with the largest percentage of wealth distribution in the world could treat its own citizens and visitors in this way.
Chaz, living in London (from NYC, USA)

As a former FEMA temporary disaster employee, I am ashamed of my governments - local, state, and federal. The region had ample warning of the hurricane. Additionally, all government parties involved - local, state, and federal - were aware that New Orleans was a sitting duck.
Todd S., Berkeley, CA

The criticism of the delays in getting aid to New Orleans is understandable but unjustified. This is a disaster that affected an area the size of the UK, it is simply not possible to get the logistics together in much less than 4 or 5 days. From what I am seeing now, the emergency effort is getting well underway and I am sure we will see what can happen when a strong nation pulls together. God bless all those affected by this tragedy.
Chris, Brazil

The federal government's response is a national disgrace. FEMA should have sent buses to evacuate those too poor to get out or had truckloads of food, water and medical supplies there before the hurricane. There was no planning or coordination among the authorities. I am ashamed of my government and horrified by the suffering endured by the stranded residents of New Orleans.
Susan Helf, Seattle, WA USA

The current crisis in the US should create a moment of pause in all societies
Kristen Canady, Pennsylvania, US
The current crisis in the US should create a moment of pause in all societies. The fragility of our system of government has been tragically played out after this natural phenomenon. One victim encapsulated our feelings with his comment that the natural disaster lead to a human disaster. I would caution that this kind of break down of government can occur any where and at anytime. It would be more advantageous for everyone in the world to look at this situation and think about their level of preparedness.
Kristen Canady, Pennsylvania, US

Those of us who looked in disgust at the images of brutality and chaos in Somalia, Haiti, and Iraq need to eat a big piece of humble pie; it doesn't matter where you are born, in the face of disorder, everyone is capable of the disgusting acts we have read about.
Aaron Leong, California USA

Let's hope that this time around Americans do not fail to continue to question their national leadership about the needless deaths brought about not by Hurricane Katrina and the failed relief effort following that terrible storm. Our national leaders are brilliant at creating "spin" and managing public relations with statements like "let's not cast blame" or "complain" or "let us move forward." But in the name of the God our President so readily calls upon, we must honour the memories of those who have perished by asking: why did this happen? The answer, I think, could lead us to great and meaningful change.
R. Dixon Crouch, San Jose, California, USA

Now is not the time to volley cheap political shots. There are people who need your help - come down to the eye-to-eye human level and help in any way you can. Put your money where your mouth is. Donate now to the American Red Cross.
Marlene Friis, Brooklyn

As a Houston resident, I have to tell you that Houstonians are doing a huge job in doing our best in creating a safe, comfortable environment for our Louisiana neighbours. Despite having our city grow by the thousands virtually overnight, our doctors, nurses, and countless citizens have volunteered their time and efforts around the clock for this task before us. Even Texas school districts are now prepared to have the children start school next week in trying to provide all sense of normalcy and structure to lives of children. Was this situation handled in the best way? Not really. Are we trying doing the right thing? Absolutely.
Sharon, Houston, Texas USA

Anyone who does not believe the Authorities/FEMA were fully aware of the inevitability of this disaster should read the excellent article about the destruction of New Orleans in the National Geographic magazine. The Bush administration had previously balked at the USD 14 billion price tag associated with the Louisiana Coastal Area project to help preserve the wetlands which help protect the New Orleans area from flood. Was this article just "I told you so" hindsight? No. It was published in October 2004! (page 92).
Nick P, Basildon, Essex

The nature of the comments I have seen using this horrific tragedy as fodder for political bickering disgusts me. What does being a friend and ally mean to some people? Apparently it means kicking them when they are down with gleeful abandon.
Sean, Islip, NY

The different States are pulling together
Anon, USA
I wish that some of our friends overseas could hear our local news. Our state are sending tons of bottled water, supplies and manpower. The folks here are stepping forward in a big way. Tonight New York's mayor gave two and a half million dollars to the American Red Cross. Detroit opened up all its hotels and are sending buses as well. The different States are pulling together - they do have the means to do so. Maybe that is why the President feels that we will outride this without foreign help.
Anon, USA

I feel embarrassed and disappointed as a Scot and British national that we are sitting back and doing nothing to help. Everyone including news teams are quick enough to criticize but no one except the Red Cross are coming forward to help. We are supposed to be America's closest ally, where is Blair? What is he doing? We need a fund set up and working now, I want to help and feel the news channels and reporters should be giving information on how we can all assist.
Roy Brown, Perth Scotland

A few weeks before hurricane Katrina's devastation, India's financial capital Mumbai (aka.Bombay) was drowned completely by a 48-hour downpour, the heaviest recorded in the last 30 years. The Indian electronic media showed images of people helping shopkeepers save their merchandize, it showed people throwing open their doors to strangers who couldn't reach their homes, it showed slum dwellers, who themselves had lost everything, serving hot tea to those struggling back home wading through waist-deep waters. The Mumbai floods made heroes out of ordinary people. Watching images of the New Orleans disaster, nothing could have been so much in contrast. It brought tears to my eyes to see such tragedy.
Abhijit Roy, Bangalore , India

The American Red Cross alone has collected $4,532,246.93 as of 11:26 PM EST. On top of that, secondharvest.org raised $1.5 million and so did dozens of other organizations, universities, and churches all throughout the United States. Don't be too eager to draw conclusions. Get your facts before being so pessimistic about this situation.
Mee Seong, Atlanta, GA

What the people hearing about the looting have to understand is that the American media's coverage is not going deep enough: there was a considerable drug problem in the area, and when one is unable to get their drug they are most often wiling to do anything to get it. This means looting the hospital drug supply, and become violent.
Jayne Dohler, USA

To anyone who has the arrogance to say these people could have left because they had warning I can only hope they find themselves in a nursing home the next time a hurricane hits Florida, floodwaters rising, stuck in a wheelchair, no help on the way and unable to fend for themselves. The poorest and most vulnerable population in America has just become the victims of the worst natural disaster in American history.
Jeff, Austin, USA

The focus must be on the survivors, not politics
Maureen, Boston, USA
It's natural in a situation like this to point fingers and hand out blame. I don't like this administration, but there is a time and place for everything. Right now, saving and caring for survivors should be the only priority. The focus must be on the survivors, not politics. There are elections in 2006. That is where you can show the politicians exactly how you feel about their response to Katrina by voting them out or re-electing them.
Maureen, Boston USA

I am disgusted by the lack of response by those in charge in the US. This just goes to show how little planning is put into ensuring the safety of the common citizen. This also brings up a question - when is the rising problem of environmental refugees going to be addressed seriously? How many more natural disasters must occur before they realise the threat of natural disaster due to global warming is greater than that of any terrorist attack?
Becca Dakini, Melbourne, Australia

Thank you to everyone in the world who is supporting us in our time of need. I have sat and watched the live news coverage of the relief efforts with tears in my eyes. The only feelings that overcome my grief are those of frustration and anger. The rage I feel at our government is beyond anything I can express. Not only does Bush know that he hasn't acted as swiftly or as seriously as he ought, but he has tried to draw attention to any positive advancements he has made on the war on terror to take focus off of his lack of action in the past week.
Brittany, Zanesville, OH, USA

How could the wealthiest country in the world get it so wrong?
Richard Bagot, Cumbria
The power of Katrina could not have been fully predicted but from an outsider the actions of the United States has been astonishing. How could the wealthiest country in the world get it so wrong and abandon its people?
Richard Bagot, Cumbria

Many are noting that it was the poor that were trapped in New Orleans when the hurricane hit. Why didn't local officials move them out before the hurricane hit? You can't herd 50,000 people in a restricted space and then expect someone else to feed, clothe and evacuate them overnight.
Desmond Prosper, Steinwenden, Germany

If this disaster had happened any where but America everyone would be demanding more aid from America. But now that tragedy has struck in the USA - who is rushing to its aid? Where are the charity tin shakers asking for donations for the Louisiana Hurricane disaster?
Bill, London, UK

The US administration is preoccupied with affairs of other countries more than that of its own. This is the biggest mistake needed to be corrected.
C Sachidananda Narayanan, Tirunelveli, India

I am thoroughly disgusted by the response of non-American posters on this discussion, who by and large seem almost to adopt an air of smug satisfaction and superiority that this is happening and that we have had our problems responding. Now you are spinning Katrina to be a poster child for everything from US arrogance to global warming. And this is from someone who does agree that the relief effort has been disgraceful and ill-coordinated.
Paul L, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Americans have a right to be very angry at the massive failure at nearly all levels of government to respond quickly and effectively to a natural disaster which has been predicted by many people for a long time and for which an infrastructure had presumably been put in place. There has been a needless loss of life and someone will have to answer the question why - in the political hurricane which is just beginning to gather.
Mark, USA

I think the problem lies in race politics. More than 65 per cent of the population in New Orleans is black - that is why the response was so slow. America has been through a lot worse in terms of natural disasters. When the time comes to kill and destroy, they have all the resources to transport their instruments of war and devastation throughout the world. But, when it comes to saving, we have seen a poor response.
Khurram, Pakistan

Race issues are beside the point here
I disagree with those that say that this disaster represents a fundamental defect with American society, or our way of life. It represents a failure of the function of our governments at the federal, state and local levels. Race issues are beside the point here. Poor people will always suffer in any country. If a disaster of this magnitude were to occur in any other Western country, you will see the same trends. In cases of disaster, consequently, the poor must rely solely on government for help. In this case, government responded inadequately for a host of reasons.

I'm absolutely livid about what has happened. Why is it that the most vulnerable citizens of New Orleans - the sick, the elderly and the poor - were left behind? It is unacceptable. Some in the US are excusing the government, saying they didn't have time to respond. That is nonsense. They weren't prepared for something they knew could happen. Our leadership must be held accountable.
Kip, Minnesota, USA

As a citizen of a tropical country like Bangladesh I am used to the devastation by the natural phenomena, but not the behaviour of the US citizen in such a situation. Sometimes we have periods of no electricity at all for days, and also we have Tornados much stronger than Katrina every year - but we never start looting our neighbours' properties. The reason is rude capitalism.
Nazmul Hoq Chowdhury, Dhaka, Bangladesh

I watch with horror as this tragedy unfolds on the television. This truly shows that the American dream only applies if you are white and well off.
Andrea, London UK

The global warming brigade and anti-Americans generally cannot conceal their delight at America's misfortune. What sort of people can look at the horrific pictures coming from New Orleans and respond with the smug knee jerk reaction - of: 'well it proves I am right'. Right about what? I cannot recall any of the lefties I know predicting this disaster - most of them couldn't find New Orleans on a map.
Al, London, UK

What are we to become if the world's most powerful nation cannot help their own people?
Chandra Taposeea, Mauritius
I am only 15, but I think that everyone has a right to have their say. I keep on watching the news on TV in horror and dismay, and I have experienced a few strong hurricanes here myself. But why was there suddenly such a powerful hurricane? One possible explanation is global warming. Maybe its time that America realised it's important to sign the Kyoto protocol so that the whole world can work together. What are we to become if the world's most powerful nation cannot help their own people?
Chandra Taposeea, Albion, Mauritius

I have been watching Katrina response on TV for the last few days, and I have two observations: The first question is why those affected are all from the black communit? Secondly, why is the US government sending the National Guard with the authority to shoot, rather than provide support to the victims? I believe that the US government attitude has added to the suffering of the victims
Kamel Al-Sadah, Jubail, Saudi Arabia

To those of you in Europe who have expressed words of compassion to the people of US, I thank you. As an American I am weeping for those in the south that are suffering due to poor planning and a slow response from the federal government and our inept President. However, I am angered by so many of the responses from some Europeans, particularly some from Great Britain. Just realize that while you are enjoying a sense of moral superiority over the Americans, thousands are dying in the streets of New Orleans.
Caroline, USA

There are a few scars in history where political policies are laid so bare for all to see. I am struck whilst watching the apocalyptic images that this is such an occasion. Yes, this is a natural disaster, but thing have been made worse by global warming, lack of gun control and a widening wealth gap. There is intense sadness welling up around the world when watching the decline of the USA. Will the next generation of Americans be able to overcome this social, ethical and environmental decline?
Declan, Stockholm

I've been involved in the aid business internationally for seven years. I'm stunned by the inadequacy of the Government's response - especially at the federal level. They've made unbelievable rookie mistakes. I'm really rather ashamed that this has been allowed to happen in America. This was not what I thought we were about.
BPK, New York

Mayor Nagin started to scream (literally) for help. Good for him! Someone had to. Obviously this storm was not taken seriously enough. And everyone is to blame. Federal, state and local governments. But it's not a blame game now, help is clearly needed and it looks like it's finally coming. My prayers are with everyone, victims and rescuers.
Carolyn, Rhode Island, USA

The states have banded together with phenomenal resolve that should not be forgotten
Dave Welch, NH, USA
For those of you questioning the response to the Katrina disaster, please realize the failure was on the federal level and not on the local and state levels. They have done all they can and have been flying sorties nonstop since Monday to try to get everyone out and there is a lot of praise that should be going around. The states have banded together with phenomenal resolve that should not be forgotten. The funding to repair precious storm protection such as coastal wetlands and continual upgrading of the levee system in New Orleans was stopped at the federal level.
Dave Welch, NH, USA

God help you if you live in America and are poor, black or old. That such suffering is still continuing six days later is a reflection of the priorities of the present administration in the so-called United States of America. The people who remained in New Orleans were not there through choice but because they did not have access to cars, credit cards or even, in the case of the old, family members to help them. Instead they were reliant on the emergency services to aid them. As this help did not materialise these groups were left to fend for themselves and in some cases die because of the lack of government intervention. Anger does not begin to describe how I feel. Kathleen Baker
Kathie Baker, Edinburgh, Scotland

Our President has sent 138,000+ of our best young men & women in the military and national guard halfway around the globe to an oil-rich nation to fight a war that, at best, has questionable motives. We have been repeatedly told that this action has made America safer. Meanwhile the poor souls of New Orleans are starving through a hell of spiralling chaos and violence. In the aftermath of Katrina we desperately need our national guard here. After witnessing the rampant looting and violence in the Gulf coast and the lack of a federal response, one must wonder "Is America safer, Mr President?"
DeLoach, Austin, Tx, US

At last - we are getting a 'taste' of what lies ahead for our planet. It is decidedly overpopulated, and facing global warming cataclysms like the one being witnessed. And how appropriate for the 20% of the planet that uses 80% of the natural resources to discover the consequences of their collective actions. Of course, those actually suffering are not the ones driving Hummers, or drilling for oil in third world countries. But we all suffer when our fellow humans suffer.
Anon, Arizona USA

Using this disaster to bash the US is cheap and tawdry. No country has ever handled any kind of natural disaster flawlessly. For you Americans sitting at your computer bashing right along, shut up and do something, I have.
L Ford, Las Vegas, Nevada

Perhaps I'm stupid, but how can Bush demand people give generously to aid agencies when he holds the purse strings of the richest country in the world? They found the money to go to war in Iraq and yet, he wants his own people to pay towards saving one of the best, most unique and most colourful cities in the US.
Mark, Belfast, UK

It's my understanding the city of New Orleans received federal funds over a year ago to prepare for a major evacuation such as this. It is also my understanding that they squandered it. It is not Bush's responsibility to hold the hand of New Orleans. It's the Governor and Mayor's job to do that.
Didi, USA

The response of the authorities has been dire but even more shocking is the violent, mindless reaction of New Orleans poor people. Have they no sense or decency whatsoever? Even in Third World countries, where people are far worse off, people do not respond to catastrophes in such a disgusting way.
Jamie Shepherd, UK

I can't blame Bush and his administration for the US not being able to withstand a hurricane - nature will always win in these situations and how can anyone ever be really, totally prepared? I can blame Bush and his administration for the time it's taken to get aid to his own citizens. I can blame Bush and his administration for believing that our actions have no impact on the environment. I can, certainly, blame Bush and his administration for allowing, mainly, black people to suffer. The USA needs to help its own citizens - and I mean all of them - before it ever starts proclaiming that it is a great, democratic, civilised power.
Rachel, High Wycombe

The real story this week has been that the Great Society has been shown to be a Great Lie. The US is a highly stratified society in which the poor black population of inner cities such as New Orleans are kept firmly in their place - this week literally, as well as figuratively. It's tempting to believe in the possibility of social change after these events, but it's hard not to be cynical and accept that, once the flood waters and the price of gas subside, things will return to normal.
Mick Verran, Boston, Ma, USA

What nonsense! The US army cannot go out to help its own people in distress? You need a permission from the Congress? If that be so, except for the President and the Congressmen, all the citizens in the US are surely second graded.
C. Sachidananda Narayanan, Tirunelveli, India

Well, this is one way to get our troops home from Iraq. This president has left this country so stretched that we can't even respond to an emergency that we watched approach the US for days via satellite. How could a leader consistently make so many bad decisions. His decisions would have been better had he simply flipped a coin!
Kathy Ormonde, Raleigh USA

I live in a city that year after year has been spared but we know we are playing Russian roulette with hurricanes. Yes Bush has botched things up big time and there is no excuse. On a closer level what was the head of FEMA doing? Watching it on tv? Those people should have been in nearby states ready and waiting to roll in as soon as things passed over. There should have been refugee camps set up immediately. So much could have been done.
Judy Omans, Savannah, GA USA

While most on here are bashing the United States, as they usually do, please remember that New Orleans sat well below sea level and that this disaster has been on its way for years and years. More should have been done to rescue the victims, but I have a feeling that if England or France or Germany would have been hit by this mess, it would have been the same if not worse. It is just impossible to get everything right, with a disaster this size. Thanks for showing how much you care about the people Europe, you choose to just bash the president and my country.
Shane, Chicago, Illinois USA

Once again, I see the old anti-Bush mantra is in full cry. If one wants to get political, it is worth noting that in the USA power and responsibility is devolved locally, much more so than in the UK, and that the Mayor of New Orleans and the Governor of Louisiana are both members of the Democratic Party. Why did they not do more - they had warning of the hurricane? Bush is now putting in the resources, but to fair, he is not on the spot in the way the local authorities are.
Patrick, London, UK

It's time for them to grow up and solve the problem
Matt Escover, California, USA
Our politicians in America are already looking for ways to attack and blame each other like little children. Instead of focusing all of their efforts on saving lives, they, Republicans and Democrats, are looking for ways to avoid or place blame. It's time for them to grow up and solve the problem.
Matt Escover, California, USA

Blaming President Bush for the response to this disaster reflects a lack of awareness of the federal system in the country. The federal government cannot act unless or until state officials ask for a declaration of an affected area as a "disaster area". The president did that on Tuesday, the day after the hurricane and the day on which the levees actually were compromised and the most severe flooding began.
Benedict Miceli, Boston, MA, USA

The first thing that should have been done, prior to any food, water or medical aid being delivered should have been to place National Guard troops on alert and deployed to the region to maintain security and to assist local police officers. This is standard practice in other areas of the world where US troops are currently deployed. You send in troops to secure the region. I am no military analyst or expert and even I know that.
Curtis Johnson, Fort Worth Texas, USA

The roles seem reversed for them now
Jenn, LA
I am a deployed soldier and I would like to bring to your attention the soldiers in Iraq. There is a whole Battalion deployed in Iraq from Jackson Barracks, New Orleans. The roles seem reversed for them now. Just as parents had to watch the news to learn of their sons whereabouts, these 1-141 Field Artillery soldiers are doing the same with their families and homes. Some have spoken with family and friends, while others have not heard from anyone and do not know what or who he will be coming home to. Within days of preparing to come home, disaster hits and wipes out the single place these guys have been dreaming of returning to the past year. I am writing to ask that as chaos grows in the South, people still remember to pray for the soldiers coming home from Iraq. Some coming home to no-one and nothing. Thank you for your time. From a caring soldier who see the pain everyday in 1-141 soldiers' eyes.
Jenn, LA

I happen to know something about American disaster preparedness and emergency response. In New Orleans, the federal government has done exactly what it is supposed to do as have the other American States. This is the procedure we follow several times every year in hurricane-prone areas like Florida, earthquake prone areas like California, and tornado-prone areas across the Central Plains and South. The first responsibility for emergency response lays with the State, in this case Louisiana, and especially its political subdivision, the City of New Orleans.
Arthur, Kansas USA

The refugees have arrived here in Dallas. We went to the convention centre to help set up yesterday and will be going again today. It is simply unimaginable. People have lost everything, they are desperate, helpless and in need of medical care, clothes and blankets when they come through the door. The stories from the New Orleans convention centre and dome are inconceivable.
A. Fairhurst, Dallas, TX (orig Newcastle, UK)

This disaster in New Orleans is a result of the erosion of the infrastructure over the past few years and tax cuts for the wealthy. FEMA, the agency in charge of disaster relief used to be a federal agency but has now been privatised. Efforts to downsize government are happening at all levels. Contracting out these jobs to the private sector obviously does not work. Also, while the Governor of Louisiana and Mayor of New Orleans pleaded for help, our president went to San Diego for a political fundraiser and to play golf a day after the hurricane. His priorities are obviously misplaced.
JoAnne, Minneapolis, USA

The obvious lack of proper planning and coordination is simply unbelievable
Hermann Meysel, Vienna, Austria
None of us in Europe should point fingers at the US, because we were spared by nature from disasters of this magnitude. Nevertheless, when this is all over, Americans should seriously ask themselves how they evaluate the competence of their leaders; city, state and federal. The obvious lack of proper planning and coordination is simply unbelievable. Americans should think very hard about that when they go to the ballot box next time.
Hermann Meysel, Vienna, Austria

In times of disaster and desperation, it is the ability of those involved to pull together that defines the outcomes for the survivors. There has been a clear failure in New Orleans at all levels of American society. While those in positions of authority must be called to account for their failures over the coming days, there is also a need for America as whole to try to understand what the collective failure illustrates about the American way of life.
J. Palmer, Warminster, UK

About the only politician who I'm not ashamed of is Mayor Nagin - he's the only voice those poor stranded people have right now, and at least he's got the humanity to scream about it as loud as he can. This is all so appalling. Never mind that we knew it was coming, what we've (not) done about the aftermath astounds me.
K. Grothoff, Los Angeles, CA

I hope that America will now wake up to the fact that global warming does exist
Suzanne B, Herts, UK
I hope that America will now wake up to the fact that global warming does exist and that action needs to be taken now to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. If the world's biggest polluter had taken the issue of global warming seriously perhaps we would not be witnessing this appalling catastrophe.
Suzanne B, Herts, UK

It is for once not fair to blame Bush for this. It is the direct responsibility of the mayors and governors of the affected areas who should have ensured a proper response. They knew what was coming and didn't do their jobs properly. I have every bit of sympathy for those affected but don't go slinging accusations unfairly.
Charlie, Reading, UK

It's disgraceful; the lack of proper and prompt response New Orleans has received. All I see people standing around, with a select few actually helping out. The looters aren't helping, either, but from what I've seen it's Louisiana Governor that's to blame. She doesn't seem to really grasp what's going on, or know what to do. They need to get up, find someone who can handle this, and GET THINGS DONE. I'm appalled at this lack of response from our leadership.
Justin N., Madison, USA

Reading about the looting, raping and general anarchy I can't help but wonder how different things might have been were guns not such a staple of life in the USA.
Sam Brown, UK

We are the laughing joke of the world
Mirta Estrada, Miami USA
This is an atrocity which the people of the USA can not comprehend. This administration has done nothing except talk, talk, talk. NO ACTION. People are dropping dead. We are the laughing joke of the world. I wonder what would have been the response if the majority of the refugees were white?
Mirta Estrada, Miami USA

We would like to adopt a family and bring them to another city or state , how can we do this and what do you recommend the best way to handle this.
Shanetta Taylor, Lancaster, CA

Most of the big powers have offered help. But I don't think Bush accepted it yet. Yes the relief effort is a national disgrace!
Ursula Foster, Gretna, VA, USA

Tim, USA is about the only one saying what is reality. And, what he didn't mention was that these people were warned. Stocking up on water and food and leaving wasn't impossible. There were even buses in New Orleans before the storm for people to evacuate on. Last year, I was without power for two weeks altogether from two hurricanes. I wasn't across the street at the gas station looting it and neither were my neighbours. If this storm had come to my city, there would be nothing but a beach littered with debris, and we know it. When you live below sea level, you have to expect the worst. At least I still had a home. What about the destroyed communities other than New Orleans. You don't hear much about them.
Patty, cocoa beach, FL , US

Water should have been dropped immediately
Patricia Holt, London, England
They are the most powerful nation in the world. They had advanced warning of a possible catastrophe. Yet four days on the best Bush can say is that 'food and water are surging towards the area'. It is an absolute disgrace. Water should have been dropped immediately. If planes can be sent to Iraq, surely they could be sent a couple of States! The governing forces in America should be ashamed.
Patricia Holt, London, England

How much is enough? We are having food-collection drives in Austin today, to send supplies to the refugees in the Houston Astrodome. Our family is donating, of course, but these immediate supplies will only scratch the surface of what these people (and others to come) will need. Many of these people will not be able to return to their former homes. It is too bad that New Orleans levee improvements planned in 1998 were never implemented, and that no effective means of evacuating the most vulnerable citizens of New Orleans were established. This is a tragedy whose effects will be felt for generations. And it is not over yet. Governmental help at this point has been very inadequate.
M. Pickens, Austin Texas USA

It is odd that Taiwan had just withstood a Typhoon of comparable magnitude and a cool stoic response was projected by it's inhabitants, why can't the Americans do the same, one wonders what the US response would be if a genuine Tsunami was to hit one of it's coastal regions? Pandemonium I suspect.
Gary Chin, Essex England

Seeing the news footage and reading the reports in the press has left me astounded, firstly at the arrogance of the American government to assume the worst would never happen, an therefore not preparing for the aftermath properly or quickly enough! Secondly, I just can't believe that armed gangs are roaming the streets looting and shooting people plus the fact that in queues for food and water the sick and elderly are being bullied out of the way. I can only hope that if a similar situation occurred in this country the people and the government would act differently!
James Harvey, St. Albans

They were warned about this situation in 2001, they should have had a clear plan
Pete, Leeds, UK
It has always been known that New Orleans could be wiped off the map by a major Hurricane. The authorities saw it coming, had days to prepare. It's all very well criticising the near impossible situation now, but the Bush Administration is full of people for whom power and image are the only concern, not even their own people. They were warned about this situation in 2001, they should have had a clear plan and they didn't - what's more, their post hurricane operation has been a complete mess. They have committed a dereliction of duty by failing to plan to save lives and they should be condemned and tried as such. Unlike 9/11, this was a disaster which could have been minimised with a total evacuation, or a clear back up plan.
Pete, Leeds, UK

Of course not enough has been done. The administration doesn't even acknowledge the global warming problem, let alone set to do anything about it. So here's Nature's slap in the face. Will it be enough when this happens to every coastal city?

I would like to commend the US Coast Guard. They have been doing a good job trying to rescue as many people as they can. Of course once they do, none of the leaders involved have been doing much to help the starving and dehydrated.
Carlson, USA

I copied this from one of your reports on your website. Is this the most fatuous statement ever made?: Fema head Michael D Brown has defended the federal response, saying that his agency had prepared for the storm, but that the widespread flooding had hampered the operation.
Roger Bell, Burscough, England

I wish Washington could react promptly to save the helpless in New Orleans
Loenel Muchano, Maputo/Mozambique
Any emergency operation can never be regarded enough as long as tens of thousands of people keep on crying acrimoniously for aid. When my country (Mozambique) as hit by the overwhelming floods in the past year 2000, the response of the neighbouring countries, including the US was extremely surprising so I wish Washington could react promptly to save the helpless in New Orleans.
Loenel Muchano, Maputo/Mozambique

I find it outrageous that the Red Cross and other relief agencies are asking for donations to help with the relief. The USA is one of the richest countries in the world, who are capable of spending vast sums of money sending soldiers to invade other people's countries, but who cannot deal effectively with a disaster in their own country.
Christine Mitchell, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire

Imagine if this had happened a month before the US elections. Mr Bush will be holding water bottles, hugging babies, shaking hands with any one who is eligible to vote. Instead what has he done so far? He brings in his dad and camera click happy Bill Clinton for a damage limitation photoshoot and fund raising. It's rather strange that for most American politicians, first thing they can think of is fund raising. We have serious problems with our democratic institutions in the west. Virtues of service and sacrifice are long gone. All the right minded people in the world have to come together to better our democratic institutions. Unless that happens, unfortunately, the poor and the weak will suffer. If anyone is starting a movement, count me in.
Reddy, London

Normal everyday people need help, let's pull our fingers out
Ben, Manchester, England
Now's not the time to be pointing fingers - it doesn't matter where you're from, this is beyond political frontiers. Normal everyday people need help, let's pull our fingers out.
Ben, Manchester, England

While it is true that the response is slow, most people do nothing about it. They merely stare at the television in awe. As a resident of Houston, we have taken in a family who has lost everything. However, people must truly ask whether or not America will learn its lesson. I say we ought to look at ourselves as a nation and be ashamed for not doing more. This problem is ours first and foremost. Yet for all the power America has, it inhabitants continue to be onlookers at the tragedy at hand. There would be no homeless refugees if everyone took someone into their home.
JH, Houston, Texas, USA

This event has laid bare the sickening underbelly of our government and society. Suburban Americans watch complacently from their homes as the poor, mostly black, victims of Hurricane Katrina suffer, and the government does nothing. Forty percent of the troops in Iraq are National Guard, yet there is no one to keep the streets of New Orleans safe, and provide those in need with supplies. Our leader has forsaken his own people; we must remember this in November.
Bri Trottier, St. Augustine, FL

I'm watching the President being briefed at the hurricane site as I write. The politicians are all saying how hard they have tried. They are all in crisp shirts, no one looking dazed or unwashed or really anything but rolled-up your sleeves working. Even the President has his sleeves rolled up, with a few military. No wonder he is so angry with the response. Maybe the rest of the world will finally stop expecting so much from the US?
Rdepontb, Maryland, USA

Help! Send prayers! No words can describe this, just please, please send us prayers.
Heather McCurdy, Houston, TX

We were told the tsunami could never affect a developed western country because of the early warning systems we have in place. Where is the preparation and planning we were promised?
Andrew Brown, New York, USA

ears ago other kinds of protective buildings should have been constructed
Gary R. Cook, Santa Barbara, CA, USA
One million homeless, and the US government was not only derelict in its duty to plan & pay for preparations, they were not even prepared, by bringing train sleeper cars, ships and cargo to standby in the Gulf, or in areas unaffected by the path of the storm. Years ago other kinds of protective buildings should have been constructed, that would provide protection, not these 200 year old homes of rotting wood.
Gary R. Cook, Santa Barbara, CA, USA

Once again the press is failing to report any progress or any positive developments. Yes, there is a lot of suffering and desperation but there is also a lot of aid and comfort being delivered and more is on the way. When they start shooting at the rescuers and hospitals then things slow way down.
Todd, Virginia, USA

To the folks who are asking "where is the International Community and the UN?" - Please note: the US Government has categorically rejected offers of aid at this time so instead of blaming others who are willing, ready and able to help, perhaps you should ask your administration, Why ?
M Da Silva, Toronto, Canada

To the gentleman who thinks we Americans are getting "on with our lives" with what is going on in the southland. This is not the case. We hurt, we are giving money, time, goods, and we are volunteering to help with the rescue efforts. How dare you comment on something you seem to understand little about. Hurricanes are MASSIVE and damage large areas. It is and will be a difficult and long task But we will get it done. We have before and we will now.
Anon, Charleston, SC

Am I missing something here, I thought the USA was one of the richest countries in the world? What an earth is going on and why hasn't more been done? SHAME on you Mr Bush.

The situation cries out for leadership
John Muller, DuPage County, Illinois, USA
The situation cries out for leadership at the federal, state, county and municipal levels that is swift, decisive, inspirational, fully engaged, sustained, highly visible, and, above all, highly effective? Willing and capable of mobilizing the vast resources of the nation and bringing them to bear on the affected areas swiftly. There is little evidence of that, so far.
John Muller, DuPage County, Illinois, USA

Someone asked 'where is the UN?, where are the other countries with help?'. Well, the answer is that George Bush has declared 'we don't need any help', this is just a set-back'. He obviously has no clue, or maybe just indifference, to the pain and suffering going on in New Orleans. It has taken him five days before he decided to visit the area. The troops are late getting to the area. Absolutely disgraceful! Excuses can be made, but the facts speak for themselves. Say what you like about Clinton, but he would have reacted promptly, and had the appropriate responses. I guess when you elect an incompetent, you get what you deserve!
Mel, Raleigh, NC

The events unfolding in New Orleans are tragic. I hope everyone here in Britain reading this will think about giving some money to help out the US Red Cross as the people affected are some of the poorest in the US. I know I will be giving some tonight.
AD, England

I noticed on a news article that some Asian-Pacific nations are sending aid. I just wanted to say "Thank You".
Joe, USA

I'm sorry, but the authorities of New Orleans and Louisiana should have had a worst-case situation like this well rehearsed. Hurricanes happen in that region every year. It was only a matter of time before a category 5/4 hurricane made a direct hit on New Orleans. Sure, always hope for the best - but prepare for the worst!
M Parker, London, UK

The response to this disaster has been so inept, it would shame a Third World banana republic. It is indeed a national disgrace and it proves conclusively, if proof were needed, that George W. Bush is not up to the job of leading what is the greatest nation on Earth.
Roy, London, UK

An article in a Canadian newspaper today says Prime Minister Paul Martin offered George Bush any help they required, for as long as they required. George told him they didn't need Canada's help right now. Wake up George! You're not helping your people. Let someone else help that wants to do so. You should have been preparing for this tragedy last weekend when you knew a category 4 or 5 hurricane was headed for New Orleans, instead of two or three days after the fact. You criticise other countries for treating their people better than you are currently treating your own.
Karen Elms, Toronto, Canada

It is total disaster and helplessness!
Hussein Kasim, Minneapolis, USA
What is happening in the gulf coast of the wealthiest nation on the earth cannot be comprehended by watching TV or listening to radio reports. It is total disaster and helplessness!
Hussein Kasim, Minneapolis, USA

This will do more damage to America's reputation than the Iraq debacle. If they can't rescue their own people in their own country why should the rest of the world believe they can be relied on to do anything?
David, Worthing UK

Prayers and assistance are needed, please.
Don Munro, NY, USA

I can only say that I feel for these people. FEMA rounds them up into football stadiums and refuses to let them go. Old women starving and dehydrating every minute they stay. Yet the more important thing is whether some thugs are stealing some televisions at a Wal-Mart. It is very clear that more could be done and yet they don't. Is there motivation behind this lack of effort on our government? I ask all of you to decide
Jon, Belleville, Illinois, U.S.A

No country will ever be prepared for a disaster of this magnitude. Not even a super power-rich nation like the U.S. (as we have witnessed it). A wise leader would ask for other country's help, just like leaders in the tsunami affected area did. The American people, as poor as they are, are not used to live without electricity, drinking water like the displaced people in the tsunami affected area. I can't imagine what they've gone through.
Sita Supomo, Nottingham, UK

Shame on the Bush administration for putting pride above the lives of Americans. Paul Martin has offered the help of the Canadian army yet Bush has not responded. Would it hurt his ego to accept help from an army that is available because it did not join his little war in the Middle East? Or is it because the majority of the victims there are poor and black? What is he waiting for?
Kelly, Victoria, Canada

Where are the food and water supplies?
P Malyon, Essex Great Britain
I can't believe what I'm seeing what a mess. Why can't they give people water even if they have to drop it from the sky. They know there are hundreds of people at the dome, where they were told they would be safe. Where are the food and water supplies? I felt sick when Bush gave a news conference talking about gas when so many people are starving.
P Malyon, Essex Great Britain

It's very easy to say in hindsight the "more" should have been done - just as with the 9/11 attacks. Perhaps we should ask those critics if they evidence the same level of preparedness and foresight in their own lives that they are demanding of others. Many of the loudest critics refused to comply with the evacuation warnings, yet they demand that others be prepared to instantly take care of them. Having said that, people in Oklahoma are responding in such a large manner that more goods are being donated than can possibly be delivered. Ordinary people are opening homes and pocketbooks to sacrificially help those in need. Unfortunately the TV news shows those crying for "more" instead of those crying tears of thanks. There are actually more of the latter than the former.
David Smith, Oklahoma City, USA

Yes, the area affected is a huge. However, there are things that could have been done immediately after the storm. Why were leaflets not dropped giving info, blimps flying over cities giving info, or, for that matter, buses available BEFORE the storm? The emergency response has been disgraceful.
Carrie, Houston, Texas

I find it a little odd that refugees are being driven out by bus, and that it takes two-and-a-half days to get 30,000 bottles of water to New Orleans. What happened to the airports and military airfields? I doubt they are all out of commission. If the military planes are tied up, I'm sure the government has contingencies to commandeer commercial aircraft. In all I believe the reaction could have being faster on all counts but only if adequate preparations were made earlier which they were not.
Tayo Ajayi, Los Angeles, CA


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