At last

Friday September 2, 2005

The emergency relief effort has swung into massive action in New Orleans and along the Gulf. At last. It’s to be hoped that by the time I sit down to write my next journal entry the evacuation of the cities rendered uninhabitable by the storm and subsequent flooding will, if not largely completed, at the very least be firmly established, with an end in sight to the horrific levels of suffering we’ve all witnessed on TV. Thanks be.

Then the real challenges start.

What to do with the massive diaspora of the exiled populations? You can’t keep tens of thousands of people in sports stadiums indefinitely, and many of them have nothing left of their homes to which they may sensibly be returned.

How to tackle the problem of the flooding? Dropping sandbags into the breaches may provide a temporary solution, though even with fleets of helicopters it’ll take an age. It’d be better to commandeer a fleet of barges, fill them with ballast, and sink them to provide a solid foundation on which to build. Then, the pumping has to start. Big time. If it’s to be done in timely fashion then some thinking outside the box will be needed.

The reconstruction and restarting of a city is no small task, either.

It’ll get done. I cannot believe that America will allow anything else. We are after all talking about the richest, most powerful nation on Earth. Smaller, less wealthy nations have rebuilt devastated cities. Often enough, that has been done with American aid. Even so, it takes focus, and that will be the case in America now just as much as it has been elsewhere. No-one in the rest of the world, least of all those who have benefitted from American generosity in the past, will complain if America needs to turn its eye and its resources inwards for long enough to get the job done. If we can help, we will.

The inquest, and the politics of attribution, and of blame, are questions for the American people to handle. I don’t envy them the task but I wish them well of the outcome.

The images of suffering I’ve viewed will be with me for a long, long time. Considered objectively, they are no worse than those I’ve seen from other devastated places around the world, that’s for certain. You can’t put any kind of measurement on these things, though, and the only thing to say is that it hurts in a different place when those who are afflicted are one’s friends. I’m thankful beyond words that the end of it is in sight. At last.



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