The new issue of Newsweek goes into detail about the behind-the-scenes foulups and slowness of the response to Katrina. One excerpt:
On Monday morning, as the storm slammed into the Gulf Coast, Col. Tim Tarchick of the 920th Rescue Wing, Air Force Reserve Command, got on the phone to call every agency he could think of to ask permission to take his three rescue helicopters into the disaster zone as soon as the storm abated. The response was noncommittal. FEMA, the federal agency that is supposed to handle disasters, told Tarchick that it wasn't authorized to task military units. That had to come from the Defense Department. Tarchick wasn't able to cut through the red tape until 4 p.m. Tuesday—more than 24 hours after the storm had passed. His crews plucked hundreds of people off rooftops, but when they delivered them to an assigned landing zone, there was "total chaos. No food, no water, no bathrooms, no nothing." There was "no structure, no organization, no command center."Weren't all these inter-agencies battles supposed to end when they created the Department of Homeland Security? Can't anyone in government eliminate red tape and provide actual solutions?