Few lessons seem to have been learned from past disasters, including the inescapable conclusion that unthinkable outcomes do happen despite their being highly unlikely. Apparently the planning for New Orleans only took into account a Category 3 hurricane, not a Cat 4 or Cat 5.
Regardless of plans that may have been made, experienced disaster relief organizations were unable to provide services in New Orleans. The article by Ann Rogers of the Pittsburg Post-Gazette describes a little of what has happened. Snippets:
"America is obviously going to have to rethink disaster relief," said Jim Burton, director of volunteer mobilization for the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The Southern Baptists, who work under the Red Cross logo, are one of the largest, best-equipped providers of volunteer disaster relief in the United States. Most hot meals for disaster victims are cooked by Southern Baptist mobile kitchen units. Burton is a veteran of many hurricanes.
"Right now everybody is looking at FEMA and pointing fingers. Frankly, I have to tell you, I'm sympathetic. When in your lifetime have we experienced this? Even though we all do disaster scenario planning, we have to accept the reality that this is an extraordinary event. This is America's tsunami, that struck and ravaged America's most disaster-vulnerable city," he said.