Wednesday, August 31, 2005

London blogging...New Orleans panic...

London- It's kind of odd to be in a London Hilton that doesn't have CNN, but does have Dubai TV. (It doesn't have al Jazeera either, for that matter.)

I finally got internet access today. (Getting into my hotel room was an ordeal in itself- suffice to say though, that after years of doing this, I know that when they say they "don't have a room available," if you have a reservation, and are a frequent stayer, they do indeed have a room for you. All you have to do is apply polite stress to the system, watching, measuring results, and they will come through. It's one of the side benefits I got from reading Herb Cohen's book on negotiating. It's a fine room, too.)

It appears from the UK, - seeing the first headlines in the NY Times since I left the US, that New Orleans is this years' 9/11.

NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 31 - Chaos gripped New Orleans on Wednesday as looters ran wild, food and water supplies dwindled, bodies floated in the floodwaters, the evacuation of the Superdome began and officials said there was no choice but to abandon the city devastated by Hurricane Katrina, perhaps for months.

President Bush pledged vast assistance but acknowledged, "This recovery will take years."

For the first time, a New Orleans official suggested the scope of the death toll. Mayor C. Ray Nagin said the hurricane might have killed thousands in his city alone, an estimate that, if correct, would make it the nation's deadliest natural disaster since the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, which killed up to 6,000 people.

"We know there is a significant number of dead bodies in the water," and others hidden from view in attics and other places, Mayor Nagin told reporters. Asked how many, he said: "Minimum, hundreds. Most likely, thousands."

As survivors struggled with a disaster that left damage of up to $25 billion, a gargantuan relief effort began. Ships, planes, helicopters and convoys of supplies and rescue teams converged on the Gulf Coast, and Pentagon officials said 30,000 National Guard and active-duty troops would be deployed by this weekend in the largest domestic relief effort by the military in the nation's history.

With police officers and National Guard troops giving priority to saving lives, looters brazenly ripped open gates and ransacked stores for food, clothing, television sets, computers, jewelry and guns, often in full view of helpless law-enforcement officials. Dozens of carjackings, apparently by survivors desperate to escape, were reported, as were a number of shootings.

Having been to New Orleans in the past year and 1/2, I'm pretty shocked by this; not surprised- after all, New orleans was a low lying city in Hurricane Alley- but this is pretty devastating.

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