When Hurricane Katrina roared ashore on the morning of August 29, 2005, federal and state officials were not prepared for the devastation it would bring—despite all the drills, exercises, and warnings. In this troubling exposé of what went wrong, Christopher Cooper and Robert Block of The Wall Street Journal show that the flaws go much deeper than out-of-touch federal bureaucrats or overwhelmed local politicians.
Drawing on exclusive interviews with federal, state, and local officials, Cooper and Block take readers inside the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security to reveal the inexcusable mismanagement during Hurricane Katrina—the bad decisions that were made, the facts that were ignored, the individuals who saw that the system was broken but were unable to fix it. America's top emergency response officials had long known that a calamitous hurricane was likely to hit New Orleans, but that seems to have had little effect on planning or execution.
Disaster demonstrates that the incompetent response to Hurricane Katrina is a wake-up call to all Americans, wherever they live, about how distressingly vulnerable we remain. Washington is ill equipped to handle large-scale emergencies, be they floods or fires, natural events or terrorist attacks, and Cooper and Block make a strong case for overhauling the nation's emergency response system.