TODAY: Is this America or Somalia?

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Bloggers on the hellish scene in New Orleans and whether Singapore would have handled the crisis better than the US

AS SINGAPOREANS — like the rest of the world — turned to the news media to know about the destruction wrought on the American city of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina last week, one Singaporean blogger, “IZ Reloaded” (izreloaded.tripod.com), gave Netizens a vivid and poignant look inside one of the central arenas of the drama.

Read more at TODAY Online. (TODAY Online PDF version here).

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He interviewed an American friend in New Orleans, Louisiana, who had to take refuge in the Superdome, which turned out to be as scary as the hurricane itself. The friend said: “We had, I think more than 20,000 people in the Superdome. Maybe even much more. We had no air con, no water and no food! We keep hearing that the govt is coming to help us. It is the same thing everyday but no one came.

“Oh man, you would freak out if you were there. At night, there were no lights and everyone was afraid. Most of the people there are blacks. I would say 99%. Whites like me were stared at and abused everytime we walk to the toilet.

“There were also rapes going on in the Superdome, some people were stabbed, molested. I couldn’t believe that I’m in America. It was like Somalia. And the toilets were disgusting. Smell of urine and faeces everywhere. We come to the Superdome to seek refuge but all we get is hell.”

Elsewhere on the local blogosphere, reactions to the disaster have varied from sympathy for the victims, to anger and bewilderment at the perceived ineptitude of the authorities. “Yuhui” (yuhuibc.blogspot.com) wrote: “I can’t believe that this bustling city that was more famous for flashers and drunken revelry has been reduced to a state of anarchy.”

“ag” (phreaque-talk.blogspot.com/2005/09/too-fast.html) said in disgust at the delay in aid: “When the tsunami hit last year, everybody was scrambling to get help to those people, but now everybody’s waiting to watch show. Got popcorn and marshmallows ready liao.”

Expatriate American blogger “Mercermachine” (somethingstickythiswaycomes.blogspot.com) wrote in a post titled “Nero fiddled while Rome burned”: “This hurricane should be renamed Hurricane George. And what did the President do while the largest city in Louisiana was being wiped off the map? He was on a monthlong vacation. Well, it was a working vacation. He made a speech in San Diego, trying to bolster support for the war in Iraq. And he played the geetar.”

The talk invariably turned to what might happen were Singapore hit with such a catastrophe. Engineer “waitee” (waitee.blogspot.com/2005/09/kartina-tusnami-of-us.html) questioned Singapore’s ability to handle a crisis of such a scale that even a “superpower” is struggling with it: “Bless us, we do not have hurricanes here in Singapore, but what if it happens here? Are we prepared, do we have the resources, is our system ready for it? The world’s biggest strongest superpower failed — F9.”

More encouraging was author Bruce Sterling (wiredblogs.tripod.com/sterling/), recently in Singapore for the Writers’ Festival (swf.sg/blog). He reckoned that if a giant typhoon were to hit Singapore, “the regime wouldn’t be snivelling and making excuses about the hunger and looting. Eco-catastrophe and martial law would surely put the Singapore power-elite really on top of their game.

“They wouldn’t spin their ‘clean-up effort’. They would assign resources, put trained people on the job and actually clean up. Because they are not just a spin machine. They possess competence.”

Mr Miyagi, a.k.a. Benjamin Lee, has been entertaining blog readers for a year at www.miyagi.sg, and is still amazed by the speed at which bloggers criticise others.

OTHER HURRICANE BLOGS

* Rogue Slayer Law Student: Presidential Tour (rogueslayerlawstudent.blogspot.com/2005/09/presidential-tour.html)
* Cherie Priest: Disjointed Thoughts on the Socio-Economics of Disaster (
www.livejournal.com/users/wicked_wish/582898.html)
* Theresa Neilson Hayden: Various entries (
nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/)

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5 thoughts on “TODAY: Is this America or Somalia?”

  1. ok
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    anon1

  2. ok
    i tell u if u quit
    smoking, u look more
    healthy and more handsome
    yur hair will become thicker
    babes will find u irrestitable

    ok maybe not the hair.. hehe

    QUIT SMOKING

    anon1

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