Katrina: further incompetence

As the gross incompetence of the federal and local relief effort continues to become more apparent, another story of complete mismanagement has caught my eye.

A British traveller tells of his horrific experience in the New Orleans Superdome. His group called the British embassy in Washington from a mobile phone to ask for help, but embassy staff told them to contact the British consulate in New Orleans. When they pointed out it was "15ft under water", the embassy staff simply repeated they should contact the consulate.

Incredible! Yet I am unsurprised. They are lucky they even got to speak to the embassy and were not forced to call a premium rate number routed through Ireland (as I had to when chasing down a passport that was 6 weeks late). Perhaps it is old-fashioned to imagine the embassy to come to your rescue. Those days are gone. The message to expats: the Americans won't help you, nor will the Brits. You're on your own.