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With Rampant Looting and Floating Corpses, New Orleans Is a City of Despair

With Rampant Looting and Floating Corpses, New Orleans Is a City of Despair

Posted September. 03, 2005 08:34,   


In New Orleans, which was hit hardest by hurricane Katrina, there are still dead bodies floating on the streets. Thousands of people have been without food and drinking water for five days.

In many parts of the city which are still under water, desperate people without basic supplies continue to loot stores and carjack. Fires broke out because of gas leaks, and gunshots were fired. The whole city has slipped toward anarchy.

U.S. president George W. Bush warned, “Looting will not be tolerated.” National Guard troops were dispatched in armored vehicles to the afflicted areas on September 1 with a mission to restore order.

At an emergency meeting that night, the U.S. Congress approved the $10.5 billion emergency aid proposal proposed by president.

The City of Jazz Has Slipped into Lawlessness–

On September 1, CNN aired scenes showing police officers armed with small arms marching through the streets and a shopping mall far away on fire with sounds of helicopters heard in the background. The police warned CNN correspondents not to go to the downtown area because it was too dangerous.

In other parts of the city, groups of armed people are roaming the streets, buildings are on fire, and looters are ransacking stores. In the convention center, dead bodies are lying everywhere and there are even grim rumors of rapes.

About 7,400 National Guard troops were deployed to the affected areas as of September 1. And the number of troops will be increased to more than 18,000 next day. President Bush plans to visit New Orleans, Mississippi and Alabama on September 2.

Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana said in a press conference, “Thousands were killed by Hurricane Katrina.” Governor Kathleen Blanco of Louisiana also said, “We believe that the death toll from the storm and its aftermath will be in the thousands.”

After it was disclosed that thousands of people in the convention center near the Superdome in New Orleans had been left without any help, including drinking water and food, for five days, authorities were finally awakened to the gravity of the situation there.

Man-Made Disaster or Natural Disaster?-

There have been warnings of large-scale disasters in this area because the city lies lower than sea level and has an ineffective artificial flood control system. So controversy is brewing that this is a man-made disaster.

The government in particular is being criticized for not having done enough to prevent a disaster. The levees along Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River can’t stand a category three or more powerful hurricane. Katrina was a powerful category 5.4 hurricane with torrential rain.

Furthermore, the Louisiana state government asked the federal government to allocate additional budget to improve the levees protection system last year. But as it was revealed that the Bush administration cut back the budget significantly, the administration can’t avoid sharing responsibility for the disaster.

Some point out that the construction of levees was not a good idea to prevent floods. As a result of the construction of levees, a huge coastal swamp, which could have prevented the floods in a more effective and environmentally friendly way than concrete waterways, has disappeared.

Soon-Taek Kwon maypole@donga.com