Obama’s Katrina?

If you have been reading this blog, you know that I have been supportive of the U.S. and other nations’ efforts to assist Haiti and counseling patience because giant relief efforts do not materialize overnight.

That said, this opinion piece from today’s Wall Street Journal, bearing the title “Obama’s Katrina”, has a familiar ring to it:

On Wednesday, the day after the quake, we organized a relief team in cooperation with the U.S. State Department and Partners in Health (a Boston-based humanitarian organization) to provide emergency orthopedic and surgical care. We wanted to reach the local hospitals in Haiti immediately—but were only allowed by the U.S. military controlling the local airport to land in Port-au-Prince Saturday night. We were among the first groups there.
This delay proved tragic.

Exactly the same problem, that is non-”official” relief on the scene immediately — only to be prevented from operating by federal officials — occurred in hurricanes Andrew and Katrina.  I write in the manuscript for Warnings that officials seem to “prefer organized suffering to disorganized relief.”

I continue to believe the immediate priority is to get relief to the Haitian people, then there will be plenty of time to study and learn from what went wrong. My fear is: we still will not learn and make changes for future catastrophes.

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