by ESTHER SWALES, Mail online
16:01pm 5th September 2005
Compare how America coped after the hurricane to how London coped after the 7/7 bombings. On that day, the emergency services arrived there almost straightaway and Blair flew from Gleneagles in Scotland down to London.
Mail online comment: It is a humiliating admission that the world's richest nation cannot cope with a natural disaster.
The horror that we have watched unfold in New Orleans has been feared for years and could have been avoided on such a shocking scale. But now the Bush administration has been forced to beg the rest of the world for help amid chaotic scenes.
America has already spent a staggering £186billion on the Iraq conflict, yet is now unashamedly turning to Europe and the UN with requests for anything from nappies (diapers) and baby milk to forklifts and veterinarian supplies.
And of course the world has been quick to offer help. Friends and foes have rallied to the cause, shocked, naturally, by the terrible images of desperation and grief beamed around the world.
But the response also begs the question as to how many of the aid gestures are simply shrewd political moves.
Strong allies including Britain, Australia, Israel and Kuwait have leapt to help, but so have those nations demonised by the Bush administration.
Sworn US enemies such as Cuba and Venezuela - which have come under intense criticism from the Bush camp - have raced to assist with offers of doctors, aid kits and medicines. Even Iran, of Axis of Evil fame, has offered humanitarian aid.
Romania, not yet a member of the EU, is also sending two teams of medical experts.
Taking aid from the poor
But it is a disgrace that the US should accept offers of help from the poorest nations who are barely able to cope with their own disasters.
Heartbreakingly, tsunami-battered Sri Lanka and Thailand have been generous in coming forward with donations despite struggling to feed and house their own people.
Even Americans joining the debates on the Mail online message boards have voiced their disquiet at accepting aid from other nations.
As one reader wrote: "I will deeply resent it if this Bush government accepts aid from any country... I deeply appreciate the gestures of all countries involved."
President George Bush is facing mounting anger both at home and abroad for his lethargic response to the disaster. The shock we all felt as we watched families, the elderly and infirm struggling to survive winds, floods, fire, hunger and disease is now turning to anger.
Mr Bush put his summer holiday first, and stayed at his Texas ranch as hundreds of thousands of his people were plunged into the most inhumane conditions.
He is now revisiting the devastated area and has called senior politicians back from their Labour Day holiday to show some semblance of action. It is too little too late, as officials on the ground predict that thousands may have perished.
Where was the coordinated evacuation plan? Why are we hearing reports that many fleeing residents actually travelled in the direction of the storm in the absence of advice and information?
And why was such a vulnerable city left without adequate defence systems against flooding? Much-needed federal finance has been directed away from the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project and into homeland security and the Iraq war over recent years.
Not only did President Bush react too slowly, but now he's accepting aid from Third World countries with a fraction of his spending power. This catastrophe happened on the watch of the most powerful man in the world and he should be ashamed.