With the mainstream news largely riveted on the U.S. election campaign and convention mania, little attention has been paid to the aftermath of the series of storms that rocked the Caribbean this past month. Flooding in Haiti has put 600,000 people at serious risk as hunger and disease rise in what Haitian President Rene Preval calls a “catastrophe.”
How would the president rate the government’s response to Hurricane Gustav? In a word: “Excellent.” Eager to escape the shadow of Katrina, which has come to symbolize the incompetence of his administration, Hurricane George made landfall in Louisiana Wednesday for some hands-on disaster relief.
Many Republicans who originally planned to spend Monday in St. Paul with other Republican National Convention-goers were compelled to change their plans, thanks to Hurricane Gustav—including the GOP’s own presumptive presidential nominee, John McCain, who was busy over the weekend playing the anti-Bush when it came to disaster preparedness.
Hurricane Gustav has given the Republicans the excuse they needed to keep the unpopular president out of his party’s big party. John McCain will be spared another awkward embrace while George W. Bush is off in Texas pestering survivors.
New Orleans residents began fleeing the city this weekend in preparation for Hurricane Gustav to hit the Louisiana coast just three years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the region. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin underscored the severity of the situation, telling locals they had to evacuate starting at 8 a.m. Sunday but would be wise to start earlier.