The following Web site chronicles the other nations of the world who have donated money and/or services to Katrina disaster relief. The list includes over 100 countries, including several nations hostile to the US.

A story in Scientific American, "Drowning New Orleans," gives an in-depth look at the devastation a major hurricane would do to New Orleans and the surrounding area. The publication date: October 2001.

In 2003, the first year of the Pre-Disaster Mitigating Fund controlled by FEMA, New Orleans and Southeastern Louisiana seem shoo-ins for heavy government funding to shore up decaying levees and antiquated flood control operations -- yet the area receives nothing. New Orleans's Jefferson Parish has the highest number of "repetitive loss structures" in the country: these are structures that have suffered flood damage two or more times over a 10-year period and the cost to repair the structure equals or exceeds 25 percent of its market value. Texas, California, and Florida receive the bulk of PDM funds.

In the months preceding Katrina, Bush sought to cut a key program to help local governments raise their preparedness, and state officials warned of a "total lack of focus" on natural disasters by his homeland-security chief Michael Chertoff. In July, the National Emergency Management Association wrote lawmakers expressing "grave" concern that still-pending changes proposed by Chertoff would undercut FEMA. "Our primary concern relates to the total lack of focus on natural-hazards preparedness," David Liebersbach, the association's president, said in the July 27 letter to senators Susan Collins, a Republican, and Joseph Lieberman, a Democrat, the leaders of a key Senate committee overseeing the agency. The International Association of Emergency Managers said in April that state and local emergency management programs were in "desperate need" of federal funding to meet new standards. When the response plan was unveiled in January, then-Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge called it "a bold step forward in bringing unity in our response to disasters and terrorist threats and attacks." A month later, however, Bush's fiscal 2006 budget proposed a 6 percent cut in funding for Emergency Management Performance Grants, from the $180 million appropriated by Congress in 2005 to $170 million in 2006. State and local officials protested what they saw as White House cuts targeting the very program that would help them meet Bush's new disaster-preparedness goals. "The grants are the lifeblood for local programs and, in some cases, it's the difference between having a program in a county and not," said Dewayne West, the director of Emergency Services for Johnston County, North Carolina, and president of the International Association of Emergency Managers. "It's awfully difficult," he said. "More money is needed." Louisiana alone saw its funding for key Homeland Security Department grant programs drop 26 percent in a year, to $42.6 million in 2005, an analysis by Louisiana senator Mary Landrieu's office showed.

Map of federal funding for flood control in New Orleans area, March 2005
Map of Southeastern Louisiana area, with circled areas denied critical flood control funds in March 2005

The Bush administration made changes in FEMA that crippled its ability to respond to disasters such as Katrina, according to the Chicago Tribune. The Washington Post reveals the disarray and incompetence of the federal response; this article explains how FEMA got lost in the bureaucratic shuffle, obsession with terrorism, and rampant cronyism raging through the Department of Homeland Security. This report details how the US Army Corps of Engineers worked tirelessly to drain the protective wetlands south of New Orleans for commercial and government development. And a letter from the Association of State Floodplain Managers in January 2005 requests FEMA to upgrade its management plans for heavy flooding, a request that was ignored.

In Bush's initial declaration of emergency of August 26, only the Louisiana counties shown in RED in the graphic below were mentioned as being at risk. The person who put this map together, Bob Harris, says that the map doesn't correlate to voting pattern, economic conditions, or anything else readily identifiable. Harris writes, "Welcome to upside-down-land: the areas at risk for Katrina were quite remarkably the areas not included in Bush's declaration of emergency. What the hell? ...Is this really what Bush authorized before the storm hit? Are they really that incompetent? ...I'm just hoping now that the press release simply got the list of 'emergency' and 'non-emergency' parishes mixed up." See the map below:

White House map

British tourists claim that US authorities refused to evacuate them before the hurricane struck, forcing them to weather the storm from inside New Orleans: (Guardian)

In February 2003, Bush signs Homeland Security Presidential Directive HSPD-5, explicitly reserving the responsibility for handling a national emergency such as Katrina or 9/11 with the federal government and making the president himself ultimately responsible for the handling of the crisis. This is triggered when a president signs a declaration of a national state of emergency for a stricken region. The Department of Homeland Security can also trigger the protocols behind HSPD-5 by declaring an "Incident of National Significance."

FEMA holds a hurricane preparedness exercise, centering around the mythical "Hurricane Pam," in July 2004. According to one report, "The Federal Emergency Management Agency promised the moon and the stars. They promised to have 1,000,000 bottles of water per day coming into affected areas within 48 hours. They promised massive prestaging with water, ice, medical supplies and generators. Anything that was needed, they would have either in place as the storm hit or ready to move in immediately after.... FEMA promised more than they could deliver. They cut off deeper, perhaps more meaningful discussion and planning by handing out empty promises."

Friday, August 26
Saturday, August 27
Sunday, August 28
Monday, August 29


New Orleans hours after the 17th Street Levee gives way
New Orleans hours after the 17th Street Levee gives way
Tuesday, August 30