In 1993, I worked for a consulting company that sent a proposal to FEMA for a disaster plan - a lot of the issues that are arising now would have been mitigated if that proposal or something like it had been implemented. It included having a load of stuff including generators, portable radio towers, satellite phones, etc stored in pods around the country that could be transported into the areas by helicopter, boat, truck, etc and set up very very quickly to have a communications infrastructure in place to be able to coordinate relief efforts.
Right now they are talking about reconnecting electricity. I wouldn't want to be in a flooded area if they turn back on that electricity! To me, they had better plan on running solar and diesel generators for quite a while. But where are those? Where are those big army helicopters that can transport loads of people? Where are the Navy ships to run communications? (Or help house ppl)
After Hurricane Ivan destroyed 90% of Grenada last year, the first things in were soldiers, tents,water, food, generators and backhoes. Power restoration was not one of the first things on their minds at all. They got the refugee camps up and running, and then started doing the clearing and reconstruction.
I think for the relief and rescue ppl, the shock of the scale of the damage that Katrina did took too long to get over, and now the rescue and relief are playing catch up. For the sake of the people who stayed to "ride out" the storm, lets hope that they manage to get going very very soon.
Disaster planning means that they should plan for a disaster, not a little rain! Why did they not think that something of this scale could hit the area?