Even President Bush today admitted the response to Hurricane Katrina has not been enough.
We must face the facts, our systems and contingencies were overwhelmed. We should never stop hoping for the best case scenario but we must always prepare for the worst. I really think that all this caught everyone off guard, and again, the Americans are holding what shreds are left of the situation together by strength of will alone. But we should not play the blame games (and even I am guilty of them). Sometimes something is so big that everything we've been trained to prepare for isn't enough. We can run as many simulations and practice emergencies as we are able, we will never be truly prepared for devestation on this scale.
I will say this, and I don't say it lightly: it seems to me the chain of command completely broke down here and that is causing the problems. (We all, in this country, know that the media is going to sensationalize any issue enough to cause panic, so I'm kind of taking their role in this for granted.) Imagine for one moment if Rudy Giuliani were Mayor of New Orleans right now, and think about how things might be different. It is an awful thing to say, but someone somewhere needs to take charge or coordinate the whole operation - and I haven't seen that yet at all. That is what the Department of Homeland Security was designed for, wasn't it?
Second: think about what would happen if this were one of those catastrophic terrorist attacks we've been prepping for since September 11, 2001. Would our response have been, after watching the last few days, even close to adequate?
Right now, we've got to stay out of the way and let the folks on the ground do their job, but we are going to have to learn some hard, hard lessons from this.
(For the comments section, what do you, the reader, think those lessons are?)