My mate Phil has a long but excellent post on questions raised by Katrina.
My thoughts in no especially coherent order:
Much as I loathe and despise my current government, I do believe that any disaster that news crews can get to will have govt-coordinated relief choppers close behind, particularly any long-predicted disaster scenario which they've had nearly a week's warning about.
My city's evacuation plan will not be just bussing the poor to an understocked and understaffed emergency shelter still inside the danger zone.
If not getting food and water to those trapped by the flood was incompetence (the city had enough in the Superdome for 36 hours, should they really have expected they'd be waiting any longer?) , then not accepting aid from foreign disaster relief experts was insanity, and having navy pilots chastised for rescuing people and armed police turning people back from the obvious pedestrian escape route was indefensible inhumanity.
Yes, this disaster was unprecedented for the USA in terms of the size of the damage zone and the particular logistical horrors presented by the flooding of New Orleans. No wonder the administration at all levels were overwhelmed. But that's what international relief missions are all about: helping overwhelmed local resources cope with situations beyond their capacity.
There was no need for the US to go it alone on the relief effort: the Asian tsunami showed that the world working under UN coordination could do wonders. Was the Bush administration just too attached to control to swallow their pride and let the willing, ready and able world step up to the plate in Louisiana?
If that was why, thousands of people died for their pride.