Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Horror of Not Being Able to Help

If your threshold for heartbreak is low, don't read the New Orleans Times-Picayune blog. They have switched over today to just posting a seemingly endless string of reports -- well, pleas actually -- from people who are stranded away from the offical rescue teams and begging for rescue. Many of them are on the verge of death after three days.

I wanted to post some samples, but they are scrolling off so fast I had already lost them. There are stories of families trapped in apartments and homes, of the elderly and disabled left behind, of hospitals full past capacity. A Vietnamese Christian church had 300 people trapped inside, in standing water, and had literally pleaded with every agency they could reach, and some media outlets, for any kind of rescue. They had one day's worth of food and clean water, and some people were already near death.

There were also many reports of armed, organised gangs systematically breaking into homes, apartment buildings, and businesses to strip them. Car are being hijacked by them, or by other desperate people. It's horrifying to realise.

But worst of all is knowing how many people are going to die soon simply because no one can reach them.

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