Katrina’s knock-out blow

When you are writing a thesis, nearly everything starts to look relevant to your topic. Unfortunately, that's the case with the unfolding tragedy in New Orleans. Although it was a natural disaster, not man-made, and involved wind and water, not fire and gas, what Katrina did to New Orleans is something very like what the aerial "knock-out blow" was supposed to do to London. Although the casualty rates are (thankfully and so far) much lower than the hundreds of thousands or more projected for massed bombers attacking a large city back in the 1920s and 1930s, the scale of the physical destruction is similar, and the breakdown in law and order is almost exactly what authorities feared back then - though perhaps with less looting and more rioting (a particular worry in the nation's capital). London's test, when it came, was less severe than expected, and precisely because the threat was overestimated, Britain was well prepared for it. Sadly, it seems to have been the other way around with Katrina.

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3 thoughts on “Katrina’s knock-out blow

  1. phil

    Just dropped in from warhistorian.org. Cool blog I'll enjoy coming back.

    In terms of aviation, what we have been watching of the Katrina aftermath highlights the significant role of the helicopter: Coast Guard, Nat'l Guard, Air Nat'l Guard, Air Force, Navy, Marines, local S&R, all recorded by tv news helicopters. Aviation has played a huge role in responding to the hurricane and there are a lot of great stories to be told. I'm in the process of starting up an audio publishing company that will focus on producing audio books and audio documentaries in aviation history. I would like to do some oral history recordings of what has been happening. So we'll see.

  2. Brett Holman

    Post author

    Thanks for reminding me that there are positive aspects to aviation! I mean, of course I know that, but my focus on the less happy aspects of its history can be a bit one-sided from that point of view. Yes, you are quite right about the unique usefulness of the helicopter in disaster situations - the Asian tsunami was another example of that (and a Royal Australian Navy Sea King was tragically lost, with the death of 9 crew members, while taking part in the post-tsunami relief efforts). I wonder when helicopters first began to be used in this way ... certainly by the Korean War, as anyone who has watched M*A*S*H knows. I know that the RAF had fixed-wing air ambulances by the 1920s, used mainly in the Middle East, but these were obviously less versatile than helicopters (ah, and I nearly forgot: the Royal Flying Doctor Service, founded 1928).

    Good-luck with the publishing venture! As you say, you will have plenty of material to choose from.

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