Thursday, September 01, 2005

Tsunami vs. Katrina

Shortly after Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, Mississippi Governor Haley Barber was quoted as saying ‘this is our Tsunami’. The analogy is not entirely off the mark. America’s attention has been riveted on privations of residents in Gulfport, Biloxi, small Gulf coast towns and, especially New Orleans. Families in the New Orleans Superdome experienced conditions routinely encountered by Global South residents, but rarely by Americans. One could even draw parallels, for a brief period, between New Orleans and failed states such as Somalia, Liberia, Sierra Leone and parts of Southern Sudan.

But there are differences.

The number of deaths from Katrina may reach several thousand. The number of deaths from the Tsunami has exceeded 300,000. The total funds pledged by President George Bush for Tsunami relief was $950 million. Funds available from private insurers alone to cover insured losses alone will exceed $25 billion and this will be small fraction of the total funds spent. President Bush has promised the most massive relieve effort in the history of the United States.

Comparisons are invidious, as my mother used to tell me. To point out differences between the US and poor regions of South and Southeast Asia is not to denigrate the suffering of those impacted by Katrina. And the loss of even one life matters to those directly impacted by it.

There is one parallel between the impact of the Tsunami, Katrina and other national disasters.

The poorest and weakest among us always suffer the most.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it is important for people in the Unites States to understand that although Katrina has had horrible effects, indeed is not similar to the Tsunami that occured in Asia.
In fact I was a bit angered by one journalist's comment the other day who compared the refugee status in New Orleans to that of refugees in the 3rd World. Having been to Africa several times, I can most certainly state that I have seen far worse conditions.
But you are right= in the end it is the poor and powerless who suffer most.

12:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indeed, uncomparable to the tsunami. But for all the money that is expected, what is the value of the lives that were lost due to the Bush Administration's slow response?

8:44 PM  
Blogger Living in Thailand said...

We have a website that was created during the Tsunami please let us know if any people there is found and we will delete themAfter the Tsunami

1:29 AM  
Anonymous sporkit said...

The sheer loss of human life comapred to that of Katrina is staggering. The media's ability to influnce American opinion is appaling.

1:58 PM  

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