I’m having a hard time wrapping my head and heart around the disasters in Myanmar and China. The ones wrought by nature, killing thousands of people in a few minutes, were awful enough, but they are compounded in Myanmar by the refusal to allow aid workers in to help. No country, no matter how resourceful and prepared, can deal with something that catastrophic without help – and lots of it.
Myanmar is barely allowing single planes of aid supplies to land, and there’s no guarantee that those that do arrive will actually get to the people who are hurting. In fact, there are reports that the military is stealing supplies meant for the destitute. China, on the other hand, is responding to its earthquake disaster in a fast, efficient way. In both countries, though, the death tolls continue to climb.
Of course the brain goes immediately to remembering how badly we bungled the situation in New Orleans before, during, and after Katrina, and how it still hasn’t come back. Much of it will never be the same, nor will the people whose lives were so disrupted. But the numbers there were so much lower than those already known dead in Asia. It’s terribly sad.
Want to contribute something to help? Here’s a NY Times list of agencies planning to provide relief for Myanmar; my guess is that they will also help with aid for China. Please be generous.