A great article from newsmax:
Hollywood Crowds Into New Orleans: "Truth Be Told
A few facts are in order:
President Bush declared Louisiana a disaster area two days before the hurricane struck the New Orleans area.
President Bush urged New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin and Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco to order the mandatory evacuation that was issued on Sunday, August 28.
First responders to a disaster are always state and local emergency agencies. FEMA is there to supplement the state and local activities.
The hurricane threatened an area as large as 90,000 square miles covering three states. Immediate relief could not possibly have been delivered to all the places that required attention.
An AP photo showed a large fleet of New Orleans buses soaking in six feet of water. The mayor apparently had the means to evacuate many of the folks who ended up stranded at the Superdome and the convention center.
FEMA began its activities immediately, not expecting the magnitude of the flooding, the non-response at the city and state level, and the anarchy that resulted.
The local and state governments had rehearsed for a different scenario. Disaster drills in New Orleans had taken place, but with a false assumption that the levees would hold.
Both the law and protocol prohibit the president from ordering military troops into a state without a formal request to do so from the governor of the affected state."