Thursday, January 14, 2010

Comment on the Belmont Club:
"Haiti after the quake"

Many years ago I went through Photo Intelligence training and joined the Order of the Cyclops. Looking at this photo I would be hard pressed to find a target. Even the buildings that haven't collapsed can not be considered safe. My first assumption is that there is now no source of clean water available. Anything else can be worked around but no water means no human life. It would be helpful if one of the physicians that regularly comment here could offer an opinion on how long can we expect before a Typhus epidemic begins? Anyone who can move should have already evacuated that city. In the case of Katrina an ultimately manageable number of sometimes unmanageable people were ill provided for for several days but the numbers who were not rescued and moved to a location where basic sanitation and a civilized infrastructure were available proved to be far smaller then the hyperventilating press first claimed. In the case of Haiti things are far worse because there are no alternative infrastructures available that can support the survivors. Also we can not assume that they can respond effectively to their own needs and create solutions. Think of what happened with Katrina. The storm landed between New Orleans and Mobile. That meant that the most dangerous area that faced the greatest destruction was to the East. However we heard almost nothing from that region. The people there absorbed the damage and went about repairing what they could and assisting each other when possible. To the West the population panicked and their chosen politicians proved entirely incapable of responding appropriately. Thousands of them are still looking for outside support without any expectation that they should perform useful work. In Haiti we unfortunately face a place much more like New Orleans. They are ill prepared, ill lead and ill equipped to recover. Unfortunately in such a situation that means that many will die, quite possibly many more then were killed by the initial earthquake.

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