Bloggers on the hellish scene in New Orleans and whether Singapore would have handled the crisis better than the US
AS SINGAPOREANS â€” like the rest of the world â€” 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, â€œIZ Reloadedâ€ (izreloaded.tripod.com), gave Netizens a vivid and poignant look inside one of the central arenas of the drama.
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: â€œWe 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.
â€œOh 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.
â€œThere were also rapes going on in the Superdome, some people were stabbed, molested. I couldnâ€™t believe that Iâ€™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.â€
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. â€œYuhuiâ€ (yuhuibc.blogspot.com) wrote: â€œI canâ€™t believe that this bustling city that was more famous for flashers and drunken revelry has been reduced to a state of anarchy.â€
â€œagâ€ (phreaque-talk.blogspot.com/2005/09/too-fast.html) said in disgust at the delay in aid: â€œWhen the tsunami hit last year, everybody was scrambling to get help to those people, but now everybodyâ€™s waiting to watch show. Got popcorn and marshmallows ready liao.â€
Expatriate American blogger â€œMercermachineâ€ (somethingstickythiswaycomes.blogspot.com) wrote in a post titled â€œNero fiddled while Rome burnedâ€: â€œThis 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.â€
The talk invariably turned to what might happen were Singapore hit with such a catastrophe. Engineer â€œwaiteeâ€ (waitee.blogspot.com/2005/09/kartina-tusnami-of-us.html) questioned Singaporeâ€™s ability to handle a crisis of such a scale that even a â€œsuperpowerâ€ is struggling with it: â€œBless 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 worldâ€™s biggest strongest superpower failed â€” F9.â€
More encouraging was author Bruce Sterling (wiredblogs.tripod.com/sterling/), recently in Singapore for the Writersâ€™ Festival (swf.sg/blog). He reckoned that if a giant typhoon were to hit Singapore, â€œthe regime wouldnâ€™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.
â€œThey wouldnâ€™t spin their â€˜clean-up effortâ€™. 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.â€
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/)