The U.S. Government did react to Katrina, and quicker than they are getting credit for.
From a 2006 GAO Report.
Coast Guard officials reported that air and boat operations, which involved rescuing or evacuating over 33,500 people, were conducted over a period of 17 days without any accidents or casualties. Rescue operations began quickly, with the first rescue occurring approximately 9 hours following Hurricane Katrinas landfall on August 29, 2005. By 12 hours after landfall, approximately 29 Coast Guard helicopters were conducting rescues over New Orleans.
Coast Guard Vice Admiral Thad Allen (replaced the FEMA Director) interviewed by Amanda Ripley of Time
Are there any misconceptions that have taken hold about Katrina that youd like to debunk?
Yeah, this is a personal opinion. We need to [consider] what the public perceives FEMAs role should have been and what statutorily FEMAs role is. Their protocol for a disaster is that locals go to the states, states go to the Federal government, and they bring resources in. When we hit that tipping point and the city flooded, it was not within FEMAs mission, capabilities or competency to go out and direct actual rescue operations. The Coast Guard came in and did it because were trained to do that. And whatever issues there are with FEMA as an organization, I hope the public does not generalize to a larger responsibility for FEMA. No matter what anybodys issue is, theres a tendency to say the problem is FEMA. I dont think thats true.
Theres a personal accountability issue here. Absent something like a flood where youre actually forced out of your house I dont think its unreasonable to think that folk should be able to last [on their own] for maybe 48, 72 hours. If you run a nursing home that is six floors high in an area with 90% humidity and 90 degrees, [should] you have an emergency generator that only lasts 10 hours? I mean, have we come to the state in this country where all of a sudden the absence of electricity is a disaster?
Thanks for posting that.