Let's talk about FEMA I wonder if the local representatives might be to blame, I know this is going to open a can of worms but I think that the local guys are more concerned with there image as a disaster savior than there job. the FEMA director in our county was asked to go to the Katrina site and help hose off the bodies of the dead and he refused. come on guys do your job and don't worry about your image. No offense to the hard working Fema workers.
As conceived, FEMA was NOT a 1st response provider. It was planned as an agency in which representatives show-up at a declared federal disaster with a credit card to help the state and local authorities pay for what they needed. Also, FEMA can mobilize volunteers from other fed agencies. Fed volunteers sign-up in advance but can refuse a call. They get a temp pay grade increase and perdiem while they are working for FEMA. It keeps FEMA from having a huge bureaucracy that stands around twiddling thumbs waiting for a disaster. Instead, it has a few admin types and specialist-mgrs but fill-out the ranks from other agencies. FEMA has some oversight -- just because the local mayor says he needs a S500 doesn't mean he'll get on from FEMA. Also, FEMA has comparatively lax spending rules.
The theory is that strict budgetary oversight is too great a burden when citizens' lives and property is at stake. The result is that sometimes FEMA screws-up and spend money for things that in retrospect look silly or tragically wasteful. Congress determined that the risk was worth it. But that doesn't mean Congress wont second-guess FEMA! Congress (as usual) takes no responsibility for it's own legislation and heaps blame on everybody else. (I wish there was a body aside from Congress that could investigate Congress, but that's a subject for another time).
Right now, FEMA has the highest turn-over rate in the fed bureaucracy and they are having a very difficult time recruiting competent people. The FEMA folks I know are deeply unhappy with DHS -- a top-down bureaucracy that is nearly exactly the opposite of FEMA in design and philosophy.
For example (in the public record), NGA showed-up in NOLA with access to military & other remote sensing assets. But they could not, due to their own rules, share any useful information with state and local or uncleared fed rescuers. A reasonable person might ask, "If we can't use these assets to save lives of citizens, why the fuck do we have the god damned assets?" A local politician rounded-up a bunch of newsies and made that particular point but with a lot more colorful language. He then invited the feds to go somewhere where their uncooperative assistance would be more fully appreciated.
You tax dollars at work.