to many americans, cyclone news is déjà vu

Hmmm, where have I heard this before?
It is increasingly clear that the junta that rules Myanmar is not able, or willing, to save its own people. The generals first failed to alert the public after warnings from India that a cyclone was bearing down on the country. After the terrible disaster, with the death toll at 60,000 and amid fears that disease could push the number to 100,000, the generals have thrown up obstacles to relief efforts – cherry-picking aid offers and barring the entry of disaster-relief workers.

An unelected regime allowing its own people to perish rather than accept international aid after a natural disaster. Does this sound familiar?

The Burma/Myanmar cyclone may have affected more people, but most of the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina was preventable.

Update: See comments for details and copious links.

* * * *

How you can help:

Direct Relief International

World Vision Canada (a Christian organization)

Canadian Red Cross / Croix-Rouge canadienne

Doctors Without Borders

These groups and many others are trying to break the junta's blockade. They all need funds to continue their efforts.


allan said...

Where does Incompetence end and where does intent begin?
John Doe II, Thu Sep 15 2005, 6:14PM

I quoted some of the above at my old blog:

"Virtually everything that has happened in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina struck was predicted by experts and in computer models, so emergency management specialists wonder why authorities were so unprepared."

"Government disaster officials had an action plan if a major hurricane hit New Orleans. They simply didn't execute it when Hurricane Katrina struck."

Another list of sources on that action plan -- and how it has been fine-tuned -- is here.

The Bush administration cut New Orleans flood control funding by 44 percent to pay for the Iraq war. ... Bush proposed spending less than 20 percent of what the Corps said was needed for Lake Pontchartrain, according to a Feb. 16, 2004, article, in New Orleans City Business.

"Dr. Ross Judice, chief medical officer for a large ambulance company, recounted how on Tuesday, unable to find out when helicopters would land to pick up critically ill patients at the Superdome, he walked outside and discovered that two helicopters, donated by an oil services company, had been waiting in the parking lot."

"Several states ready and willing to send National Guard troops to the rescue in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans didn't get the go-ahead until days after the storm struck."

A navy "ship rode out Katrina in the Gulf and was available with amphibious vehicles, hospital beds, and sailors who could come ashore to help. Waiting for orders that have yet to arrive."

The U.S.S. Bataan, equipped with six operating rooms, hundreds of hospital beds and the ability to produce 100,000 gallons of fresh water a day, has been sitting off the Gulf Coast since last Monday - without patients.

"Shortly before they were set to leave for Hurricane Katrina-battered states, a group of about 100 law enforcement officers from across Nevada was told to stay put by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA officials put the contingent on hold on Sunday afternoon for between one and three days ..."

"Three tons of food ready for delivery by air to refugees in St. Bernard Parish and on Algiers Point sat on the Crescent City Connection bridge Friday afternoon as air traffic was halted because of President Bush's visit to New Orleans, officials said."

Mary Landrieu, the Democratic US senator from Louisiana: "I understand that the U.S. Forest Service had water-tanker aircraft available to help douse the fires raging on our riverfront, but FEMA has yet to accept the aid. When Amtrak offered trains to evacuate significant numbers of victims - far more efficiently than buses - FEMA again dragged its feet. Offers of medicine, communications equipment and other desperately needed items continue to flow in, only to be ignored by the agency."

"A visibly angry Mayor Daley said the city had offered emergency, medical and technical help to the federal government as early as Sunday to assist people in the areas stricken by Hurricane Katrina, but as of Friday, the only things the feds said they wanted was a single tank truck."

Airboaters stand ready to go help hurricane victims but have not been allowed to do so.

"When Wal-Mart sent three trailer trucks loaded with water, FEMA officials turned them away ... Agency workers prevented the Coast Guard from delivering 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel, and on Saturday they cut the parish's emergency communications line, leading the sheriff to restore it and post armed guards to protect it from FEMA, Mr. Broussard said."

Homeland Security won't let Red Cross deliver food.

A group of firefighter from Houston, some with special expertise in oil rig repairs, and plenty of post-hurricane clean-up experience were stopped by FEMA from entering New Orleans and not allowed to go anywhere else, either.

Canadian plane and search and rescue teams stopped by Dept. of Homeland Security.

Various aid from Russia, Canada, Cuba, Sweden, Germany, and more than 20 European countries was all refused.


As I said, that's a short sample of what John Doe compiled:


New York Times, June 21, 2006:
"New Orleans is experiencing what appears to be a near epidemic of depression and post-traumatic stress disorders, one that mental health experts say is of an intensity rarely seen in this country. It is contributing to a suicide rate that state and local officials describe as close to triple what it was before Hurricane Katrina struck and the levees broke 10 months ago."

July 2006
Asian tsunami relief workers touring New Orleans were shocked by the devastation and slow pace of recovery nearly 10 months after Hurricane Katrina struck....
"It looked a lot like Aceh six months after the tsunami," said Tom Kerr, the publications director of the Thailand-based Asian Coalition for Housing Rights....
Somsook Boonyabancha, director of the Community Organizations Development Institute in Thailand, said she was shocked at the lack of progress in New Orleans.
"I'm surprised to see why the reconstruction work is so slow, because this is supposed to be one of the most rich and efficient countries in the world. It is starting at such a slow speed, incredibly slow speed," she said.
Story was at: http://xtramsn.co.nz/news/0,,11965-5957390,00.html

allan said...

Stories under "REFUSED AID"

FEMA did not accept water-tanker aircraft from US Forest Service

FEMA did not accept trains for evacuation

Chicago help not accepted

Airboaters stalled by FEMA

Red tape hinders volunteer physicians to help

Volunteers not welcome at Astrodome

Three trucks loaded with water turned away

FEMA turns away morticians

Relief Convoy From Loudoun Sheriff Ordered To Turn Around

Homeland Security won't let Red Cross deliver food

Group of firefighters stopped by FEMA

Canadian plane and search&rescue teams stopped by Dept of Homeland Security

Salvation Army Rescue Fan Boats Turned Back by National Guard

"Sick and Abandoned"
FEMA blocked emergency hospital

FEMA blocks 500-boat citizen flotilla from delivering aid

FEMA ordered doctor to stop treating hurricane victims


laura k said...

Thank you, Allan, this is great. I'll update the post to highlight your comment.

And who profited - and continues to profit - from Katrina? Many answers are here.

Anonymous said...


I know this blog is called "We move to Canada", and therefore talks a lot about the states, but are you really using the recent cyclone to make a point about the legitimacy of the US government?

That's disappointing.

laura k said...

Issachar, I am drawing a parallel between what the junta in Burma/Myanmar is doing right now and what the junta in the US did 3 years ago.

Most wmtc readers will understand that very clearly.

If you are disappointed by the content of this blog, you are free to stop reading and/or commenting at any time.

I don't blog for you, and I don't give a shit if you're disappointed.

allan said...

issachar: i see that reading comprehension is not one of your stronger talents.

let me break it down for you.

laura is highlighting the striking similarities between what is going on right now in myanmar and what went on in 2005 in new orleans. okay?

myanmar govt. failed to alert the public.
US govt. failed to alert the public.

myanmar govt. have blocked relief efforts.
US govt. blocked relief efforts.

myanmar govt. is turning back aid offers.
US govt. turned back aid offers.

myanmar govt. is barring the entry of disaster-relief workers.
US govt. blocked the entry of disaster-relief workers.


and i was kind enough to provide dozens and dozens of mainstream news links to stories that most of the readers of this blog (and most people in the US) never heard about.

are you denying the point of laura's post -- that (once again) a government is happy to allow tens of thousands of its own people to die rather than warn/help/rescue them?

after seeing all of the evidence that i have piled up in the first comment, are you actually denying her point?

if so, please explain. i'd like it hear it. but keep in mind that there's a shitload of evidence in the john doe post that you will have to refute first.

laura k said...

I know this blog is called "We move to Canada", and therefore talks a lot about the states,

I also like (not) the implication that I need an excuse or a rationale to blog about the US. Like if my blog was called "I am a Canadian" I'd have to justify it.

Paging Jere...

Anonymous said...

I get Laura's point. She makes it quite clear. I did not deny her point, (nor do I now) and you provided strong sources to support her point. I just don't think much of her using the disaster in Burma to make her point. But as she said, she doesn't care.

I wouldn't bother leaving any comment on some random blog I'd come across this morning, but I've been reading WMTC for a couple of weeks now and I thought I'd add post my reaction.

allan said...

Apparently, he's objecting to your use of the phrase "an unelected regime" -- as if that's the point of the post.

(Good luck explaining away all the evidence for that, too.)

allan said...

I just don't think much of her using the disaster in Burma to make her point.

Half of her point IS the disaster in Myanmar. So it kinda makes sense for her to mention it.

laura k said...

Issachar says:

I get Laura's point. She makes it quite clear.

But earlier he said this:

but are you really using the recent cyclone to make a point about the legitimacy of the US government?

If he got my point, why did he ask the first question? To make his own point, that he disagrees with my premise that the US government is unelected (as he said several times in an earlier post)?

I just don't think much of her using the disaster in Burma to make her point.

It's quite difficult to compare two things without mentioning one of them.

allan said...

Katrina Victims May Have to Repay Money
Associated Press
March 30, 2008

Imagine that your home was reduced to mold and wood framing by Hurricane Katrina. Desperate for money to rebuild, you engage in a frustrating bureaucratic process, and after months of living in a government-provided trailer tainted with formaldehyde you finally win a federal grant.

Then a collector calls with the staggering news that you have to pay back thousands of dollars.

Thousands of Katrina victims may be in that situation.

Kim_in_TO said...

The logic behind comparing Burma with the US (Katrina) is clear and obvious. This, however, is not:

issachar wrote:
I just don't think much of her using the disaster in Burma to make her point.

You disapprove... why, exactly? I totally don't get it. I'm hoping your internal logic works for you; it is by no means obvious to me. If you're going to take the time to post, wouldn't it make sense to explain your thought process and justify it?

laura k said...

Katrina Victims May Have to Repay Money

I blogged about that here (second part of post). Thanks for the reminder. A final indignity.

On second thought, probably not final.

allan said...

Your Liberal Media At Work:

Washington Post, May 6, 2008:

"To react to the main news of the day -- thousands of deaths from the cyclone in Burma -- Bush sends his wife out to make a statement. She criticizes the Burmese government for its failure "to issue a timely warning to citizens in the storm's path" and "to meet its people's basic needs." Reporters, too tactful to draw parallels to New Orleans, quiz her instead about daughter Jenna's wedding, and the names of future grandchildren. "George and Georgia, Georgina, Georgette," the first lady says.


laura k said...

Reporters, too tactful to draw parallels to New Orleans,

This is maddening.

Thanks for posting this.

allan said...

Yet another example why normal people and their blogs are far more informative than the traditional media.

Kim_in_TO said...

That is just ludicrous.

allan said...

That is just ludicrous.

What is?

laura k said...

I think Kim meant Katrina victims being asked to return aid money.

We'll see if I'm right.

Kim_in_TO said...

Sorry - I was referring to reporters being too tactful to draw parallels to New Orleans.