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Hurricane Katrina

The Canadian Response

Copyright © 2005 by David E. Ross

No, this is not about the devastation wreaked upon New Orleans, Biloxi, and the other cities hit by Katrina. We have seen the news photos, read the newspaper articles, and heard the broadcasts. The loss of life likely exceeds the number who died in the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001. The property damage is already known to exceed any other disaster that has ever happened in the United States, worse than any earthquake, urban or forest fire, river flood, or other storm.

No, this is not about the deficiencies in disaster planning that may have cost lives. This is not about an evacuation plan that failed to provide transportation to those who had no private automobile, no money for airline tickets, and not enough credit to rent a Hertz, Avis, or other rental car, leaving approximately one-third of the population of New Orleans stranded in a flooded, dying city. This is not about how levies that should have been improved decades ago were allowed to remain without serious maintenance.

No, this is not about defects in our federal government's response to the disaster, defects at first denied and then finally admitted by President Bush. This is not about why federal troops did not enter New Orleans to restore order until four days after Katrina passed. This is not about why even drinking water and emergency health care were delayed.

And this is not about long-term economic impacts that might be felt throughout the United States and even around the world. This is not about Louisiana, Mississippi, or local governments in those states defaulting on municipal bonds because they cannot collect taxes from closed businesses and destroyed property. This is not about how recent changes in the bankruptcy laws will affect those left destitute by Katrina. This is not about the potential of sell-offs in the security markets and declines in the values of commercial real estate as casualty insurance companies liquidate their investments to pay claims.

I received an E-mail message.

Subject: An observation and question
From: John <>
Date: Thu, 1 Sep 2005 08:50:15 -0500

I have observed that every time there is some disaster in the world the USA seems to be the first to send help. Whether it monetary, food relief or equipment and supporting personnel.

I've yet to hear or read of any other country offering help with the hurricane disaster. No matter how large or small.

I do understand that not all the countries we have helped are able to reciprocate. None the less there are those who can.

The question then is, where are these countries that we have helped numerous times in our time of need?

I would be interested in hearing your views as would many others.

I replied that both Canada and Germany had already offered help. But then I realized that the U.S. news media were not reporting such offers.

While the Canadian government was loading four ships with relief supplies and personnel, the great Los Angeles Times contained not one word about foreign assistance. While Canada increased its exports of petroleum and gasoline to the U.S., CNN was silent. Only the New York Times listed nations offering aid and gave details about Canada's efforts.

My daughter Heather is a permanent resident of Canada, so I try to keep current with Canadian news. Online, I visit the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, The Globe and Mail, and other Canadian news sources. To a large extent, this is the only way I would know that other nations want to help Louisiana and Mississippi recover.

The situation is very similar to what happened on 11 September 2001: Both the U.S. news media and President Bush ignored the very real contributions made by Canada. Few here know that, when the U.S. closed its air space to flights that were already in the air, the planes were allowed to land at Canadian airports even though they might contain additional terrorists. Few here know that Canadian hotels and private families put up stranded travelers who could not get into the U.S.

This illustrates how insular and provincial the news media are in the United States. Shame!

One news report from Canada regarding that nation's efforts to provide disaster relief was quite striking.

In Edmonton, Canada's Public Security Minister said Canada will do whatever it can for the U.S. Anne McLellan said that could involve a wide variety of things, including sending military engineers.

But McLellan said medical drugs may be among the first items Canada is called upon to ship south. She said an American government agency asked Ottawa to do an inventory of medication that could help stop the spread of infection. McLellan said the inventory has been done and the U.S. government has been informed of Canada's ability to ship the drugs.

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
31 August 2005

We are told repeatedly by the FDA that drugs imported from Canada are unsafe. Are those drugs now suddenly safe? Or was the warning against importing them another lie (just like the justification for invading Iraq)?

Canada continues loading its ships, not only with supplies but also with engineers, divers, and other relief personnel. This, despite the fact that torrential rains from the dying Katrina washed out many roads in eastern Canada. Canada's own disaster from this hurricane will not stop that nation from sending help where it is needed the most.

2 September 2005

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