I have seen very little, if any, coverage discussing the individual responsibilities in such disasters. It is sad that people are willing to blame government for their circumstances, and in particular push the Federal government for absolute responsibility.
Individuals owe themselves responsibility. People can better plan for emergency. People can choose where to live, knowing the risks. People can behave responsibly during a crisis. But there's been little evidence of this.
It will be very hard to convince me that 100k people in New Orleans were incapable of leaving in advance. Many poor people have cars, or have friends/families with cars. There were enough cars in NO to evacuate everyone.
If one has as an emergency plan climbing into the attic during a flood, one should take an ax. If you don't have an ax, don't trap yourself in an attic. Better to float downstream than drown trapped in an attic.
Here in earthquake country, many of us stock a few days' supply of food and water. It doesn't cost very much.
Looting and raping are the actions of individuals. While it would be nice to have police protection against these, I hold the criminals responsible, not the police. What is in the minds of those who say that stealing and rape are bad, except in an emergency? (Perhaps this is a product of public-school education??)
How did NO citizens elect such a nit-wit mayor? We saw much better behavior from NYC's mayor in 2001. Perhaps NYC has more resources, but I think they have a better track record of electing responsible, take-charge mayors.
Why is the Federal government responsible? Why hasn't the city of NO actually put into place better emergency plans, and prepared physically for the inevitable. Here in Earthquake country, we've been quake retrofitting for 50 years.