U.S. Coast Guard Vice Admiral Thad Allen has been put in charge of the Gulf Coast relief effort. Criticism of the federal relief effort led Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff to recall FEMA Director Michael Brown to Washington, D.C.
Just days before Hurricane Katrina hit, officials from state, local and federal agencies were hearing that this could very likely be the big one — the one they knew could devastate the city.
They spent the weekend in almost non-stop conference calls — making sure all the plans for food, water and security were in place. But even before the storm hit, some of the plans started to fall apart.
National Guard troops in other states sat ready, waiting for orders that never came. Instead, they were told to wait for an official plan and a chain of command to be established.
As the extent of Hurricane Katrina's threat to New Orleans became evident, trucks with water and ice were not positioned as planned. And when they were finally told to move, they were sent hundreds of miles away from most of the people in need. Local officials, people who had been part of the original planning, waited days, instead of hours, for help to arrive.