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OTHER ITA SITES:
American Disaster Victims Have It So Good
We've all read about the earthquake in Pakistan. 20,000 or more people dead and thousands more stranded and not evacuated yet. Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz of Pakistan put the death toll at 23,000, up from an estimated 20,000 the day before. Of the 51,000 people injured in the earthquake, only 3,110 have been evacuated by helicopter, according to Pakistani officials.
Americans complained about the evacuation process during Katrina? What would Americans have been saying if the earthquake crisis in Pakistan were happening here?
In one hamlet on the Pakistani side of Kashmir, 100 miles northeast of Islamabad, Asghar Hussain Shah, a 49-year-old schoolteacher, shivered in a thin cardigan beside his broken house.
He, his wife and children huddled under a sodden tarpaulin to escape the rain that fell over the village, called Mohri Furman Shah. "We cannot sleep in the house," he said. "All the men and women are frightened." Mr. Shah said his extended family of seven others has camped out for three nights and were now trying to keep dry under makeshift shelters beneath the trees.
The hamlet emerged with just six dead after all 300 children at the local school escaped before the school collapsed. But it is now Day 4 and no help has been offered to the hamlet, which sits on a main road.
Beneath trees. Not inside a building as our Katrina survivors were. They aren't calling out for the government to be blamed. They are not saying their government failed them. They aren't holding their hand out expecting handouts as if it were a right.
Katrina was a disaster. People were killed. People were injured. People lost their homes. Yes the government could have done a better job at responding. But let's keep it in perspective. When a hurricane is coming, people are told to put away food and water for 5 days. The federal response and evacuations began on the 4th day.
Thousands of families in Himalayan Villages in Pakistan will be lucky if anyone can reach them in that same 4 days. They won't call it racism. They won't blame the government for a natural disaster. They will be grateful for whatever aid reaches them, whenever it gets there.
Maybe there are some Americans who should reflect on this.
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Travel Part B