The New York Times just about sums it up today:
The debate began after officials realized that Hurricane Katrina had exposed a critical flaw in the national disaster response plans created after the Sept. 11 attacks. According to the administration’s senior domestic security officials, the plan failed to recognize that local police, fire and medical personnel might be incapacitated.
D’oh! So relief efforts are supposed to start local and work their way up to federal. But what if the local authorities are just as paddle-free up the proverbial Shit Creek as the rest of the populace?
Now the question for the feds becomes, how forgivable was that oversight?