The Czech Government offers help to the Gulf Coast states of the US
With the southern Gulf Coast states of the US still reeling from the devastation caused by hurricane Katrina and the subsequent floods, the Czech Republic has offered to help. On Monday morning the Czech president and prime minister both had meetings with the US Ambassador in Prague, William Cabaniss. But what kind of help can a small country like the Czech Republic actually give?
He suggested that they could help with the urgent work of helping to get fresh water supplies back in operation. He also proposed sending first aid teams and field hospitals - such as have already served in Afghanistan, Iraq and Sri Lanka. The Czech army also has an anti-chemical unit that Mr Paroubek said could help to decontaminate areas where chemicals might have leaked into the water supply.
"Thank you very much for this huge outpouring, for this offer of assistance. This has been the greatest national catastrophe in the history of the United States. You certainly have experience with a city under water. I have a little book that shows Prague under water in 2002. We have a similar situation in New Orleans, but it is different in that higher numbers of people have been completely flooded out of their homes.
So the Czech offer is now being assessed and there will not be any Czech teams or equipment leaving straight away. In practice the Czech Republic can probably do very little, because the State Department will need several days to consider the offer, and most of what the Czech Republic is offering is very much of an immediate nature. There are also plenty of logistical problems, not least the fact that the Czech Republic is a long way away.