Somebody emailed me recently with some criticism of the Chinese government response to the earthquake. They thought that America would have responded better. I don't think Americans have any room for criticism of other countries' response to disasters after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.
Within days, China mobilized the largest rescue team ever assembled in the history of mankind (currently at near 150,000 rescuers and humanitarian personal, most of whom are troops from the People's Liberation Army).
In Katrina, there were a few hundred first responders. Also members of Blackwater USA showed up, not to help, but to protect property and goods from desperate refugees.
The Chinese Government has deployed more than 70,000 huge tents, with each tent capable of sleeping 20 people. They have contracted with every tent-maker in China to work round-the-clock to build another 200,000 semi-permanent 20-person tents by mid-June. At that time, every man, woman, and child in Sichuan will have shelter for the remainder of the Summer and Winter as rebuilding commences in Sichuan.
It took the U.S. Government a month before the first emergency trailers showed up. Months later, they were finally able to house almost 20% of the people displaced by the disaster. The other 45,000 or so had to leave the state of Louisiana via privately-funded transportation in order to find shelter.
There are currently over 5 MILLION people displaced by the earthquake in China.
At the peak, Katrina displaced a little over 60,000.
About 60,000 people died in the earthquake in Sichuan.
Less than 2000 died in Katrina.
China has welcomed outside aid from virtually everyone who offered it. They even accepted aid and rescue teams from Japan (Japan and China have a shaky relationship, with a lot of dislike for each other).
The U.S. Government rejected aid offered by many countries (notably Cuba and Venezuela). They also rejected food from the German Navy who parked a ship right in the Gulf, as a surprise gift to the Americans in need (George Bush thought that German beef might have mad cow disease).
The U.S. Government has donated a total of just less than 3 Million Dollars in money and aid to help the Sichuan situation.
China pledged 5 Million Dollars to the USA during the Katrina disaster.
China is dealing with a disaster of epic proportions - perhaps the worst disaster of this generation (maybe a tie with the Tsunami that hit Sri Lanka and Indonesia). The response has been phenomenal. However, the nature of a disaster means there will always be snafus, problems, and snags in the system.
Before you start pointing fingers, all Americans should take a moment to feel a bit of shame over Katrina, and maybe learn a thing or two about what is going well in the rescue and aid response in Sichuan, China.
And let's just hope and pray that our response is never tested to such extremes in the USA. And if it does, you'd better cross your fingers that our government can do half as good a job as the Chinese are doing right now.
If you have a comment, complaint, or a suggestion for how we can improve, please post here.
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