THe NYT ran an angry editorial yesterday wondering, essentially, why the federal government was unprepared for the situation in New Orleans. Since, after all, "everyone knew" the storm was coming. This contention is demolished with this series of weather maps by EU Rota.
The storm "everyone knew was coming" could’ve made landfall at any point from eastern Florida to the entire Gulf Coast. Unless the folks at the NYT have some secret insight into rapidly changing storm tracks
that they’re not sharing with the rest of us, such criticisms cannot be
Ultimately it’s the locals who have to be prepared when something like this might come their way. They simply weren’t. When the President and Federal authorities got worried about Governor Blanco’s unwillingness to take the situation seriously and suggested they take over, Blanco decided that holding on to her power was more important than the lives of her citizens.
That’s part of the reason why we have schoolbuses left sitting when people were desperately in need of evacuation. And in the aftermath, New Orleans police officers, a vital part of everyone’s disaster relief plans, ran away, quit, or joined the criminals while an underclass of drug addicts and gangs were allowed to roam free and terrorize the homeless and injured.
A more detailed timeline is available here. For the sake of balance, here are some very valid criticisms of both FEMA and DHS. Fortunately the people who work for the agencies are smarter than the people running them.