Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Katrina: A Disaster Waiting to Happen

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Katrina: A Disaster Waiting to Happen

Article excerpt


The Hurricane That Shook America

9pm, BBC2

IT WAS like a cheap disaster movie," says an expert in this documentary. "I felt sick because it was a tragedy that could and should have been prevented."

Last month, Hurricane Katrina spun off the Gulf of Mexico and swung, at the last minute, into the city of New Orleans, killing hundreds of people, destroying homes and submerging the city by breaking the flood defence barriers (the levees).

At first glance, it appeared to be a natural disaster which could not have been avoided. But, as this programme shows, the city and its people were let down by the US government and emergency bodies.

Using newsreel of the hurricane's fearsome destructive power and its aftermath, as well as interviews with experts and film of the city's previous disasters - including remarkable footage of the tent camps set up after the great flood of 1927 - the programme details the full extent of the government's failure.

Three days after Katrina, President Bush said: "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees." But that is exactly what scientists and planners had been predicting for a long time. "We had laid this out in very great detail for years," says one expert.

Another claims: "The government was letting the people sit there to be hit." The programme also charts the human stories of people in New Orleans - such as blues legend Irma Thomas, whose home was flooded. And Jabbar Gibson, a young black man who commandeered an empty school bus to drive a group of children out of the flooded city - picking up victims from the streets as he went.


10pm, Channel 4

Claire and Charlie have gone missing (stop cheering at the back). And we know what that means, don't we..? Yes, Dr Jack has to swing into heroic action again. This involves him and Kate (of course) charging through the jungle, getting all hot and sweaty and dirty (see, life on a desert island is not all bad). There are also more flashbacks into Dr Jack's past (which, by contrast, does look grim).

To be honest, it's a routine episode, saved by two things: first, a dramatic bid to revive a dead member of the gang; and, second, the fact that there's no soft rock track at the end. …

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