Watching the effects of Hurricane Katrina on TV, I could not escape being repeatedly struck by the extremely thin line between man and Nature.

Here is New Orleans, one of US’s liveliest cities, built over 250 years, reduced, in a matter of hours, to an extension of the river and the lake.

And as looting takes place on an unprecedented scale, lowlifes patrol downtown Orleans with Ak47s while police, overworked and clueless about an emergency on this scale, put up token resistance, corpses float down thoroughfares, alligators and snakes wade through debris and the threat of an impending epidemic hangs in the air —-one can see that New Orlean’s refined, urban ethos has vaporized in 36 hours bringing the rule of the jungle to its dark, waterlogged streets.

In short, a total meltdown of civilization played out on live TV.

As Sheppard Smith, Fox New’s Dan Rather-wannabe mentioned—the situation in New Orleans is as bad as it is in a third world country. ( a sentiment echoed in multiple places)

Yes it’s that bad.

11 thoughts on “Meltdown

  1. Arnab, there is no line between man and Nature, we are one and the same, made up of the same stuff.

  2. Hi Greatbong
    Next time Mumbai has a flood, and things are all chaotic, someone should say, “Man, this is as bad as New Orleans…almost”.

  3. @David….well the way I interpret Nature is as the entity against which Man has had to struggle to claim the world.

    @Michael: Yes definitely we should be saying that….the hubris the Western media suffer from is mind numbing.

    They would be astonished to see that third world countries react much better to natural calamities on a similar scale….and that on normal days, the odds of finding an alligator or a gang of men with Ak47s in a third world city are….remote.

  4. “…on normal days, the odds of finding an alligator or a gang of men with Ak47s in a third world city are….remote.”

    loyalty to blog reconfirmed. these are the priceless bits that keep bringing me back!

  5. There were hardly incidences of looting in Mumbai at the time of deluge, except one or two car theft. Saying this, as I have witnessed myself.
    Yeah sure, though called a third world country, we fare better in this regard.

  6. @Rimi…thanks…:-)

    @Ritzy.. yes but who is there to tell the Western world about that.

    @Sakshi…So it is—a glimpse into the end of the world.

  7. It is hard for me to believe that the Feds reaction to this does not have something to do with the FACT that most people affected are poor and african american..(my own guess would be more than 90% are. I am squinting hard to find a caucasian american in that group inside the astrodome and yet to find one)…The difference between the response to the NYC incident and this one is unbelievable and sad..reveals the true color of those in charge (note: this has nothing to do with political affiliations)

  8. “As Sheppard Smith, Fox New’s Dan Rather-wannabe mentioned—the situation in New Orleans is as bad as it is in a third world country. ( a sentiment echoed in multiple places)”

    I don’t understand why reporters like Sheppard Smiths draw ananlogy to the third world countries.
    1. With all the latest weather warnings, all modern equipments and facilities why didn’t the people evacuate? How foolish they can get? The tsunami victims did not get any warning – remember?
    2. Nobody in the third world harmed their own neighbours – like the gun trotting/looting demons.
    What amazes me the most is that these news reporters are supposed to have better perspective of the world. So they should use their brain to check whether all the parameters are the same in the comparisons between the richest nation and the third world countries.

  9. I think the main reason for this massive and unexpected damage in New Orleans is due to the breach in the embankments that guard this lowland city. I guess that this possibility was ignored by the engineers.

    But the flood in Mumbai was because of the poorly maintained underground sewerage systems (like Calcutta) that one can ill-afford to ignore. It would be very interesting to know New Orleans resistance in its pre-Katrina sewerage systems against Mumbai-like heavy rains.

    Why most of the affected are black Americans is a telling point and calls for some good explanation. Amardeep Singh’s post and a subsequent discussion broached some points on the issue. One may like to take a look at that.

  10. @Anon and Akash: the race angle I am not really buying into.

    1) The scale of 9/11 was nothing compared to this….there it was basically 2 big buildings and the surroundings…here it’s 80% of the city under 20 feet of water.

    2) Gulliani was a better mayor than the one at New Orleans who has now vanished.

    3) There are Caucasians among the refugees as well as looters (have seen it on TV). However the majority that are affected is black not because blacks are being discriminated against but because the main sufferers are poor people who had no means to leave the city…..and in any US city poor people are mostly black.

    @Yourfan: 1) To be fair, Katrina started out as Cat 1 and then suddenly, without warning, picked up momentum over the Gulf of Mexico and became Cat 5. There was basically 12 hours advance notice people got….and it is impossible to clear our a city of New Orleans size in 12 hours.

    2) In many places after the Tsunami, there was looting and pillaging of dead bodies…I refer you to
    this piece by my good friend Suhail

    However there was not a total breakdown of law and order like in Orleans where cops are running scared, street gangs are raping and looting in broad daylight and goons are shooting at red cross helicopters and boats trying to rescue people. This is what Mr Smith needs to be told:

    “Such things dont happen in third world countries as a rule.”

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