Last night on NBC Nightly News, Andrea Mitchell had a (surprisingly objective) piece on what caused the delays in getting water and food to those who need it in NOLA:
1. Because the mandatory evac order only came on Sunday, many people were unable to get out before Katrina hit. (In defense of Mayor Nagin, it's important to note that the city gov't sent buses throughout the city to pick up those who had no transportation themselves; it's also important to note that it was apparently President Bush who urged that a mandatory evac be given. Listen to this presser by Gov. Blanco from mid-week, from minute 39 to 44.)
2. After Katrina cleared the area and relief efforts began, the helicopters which were intended to deliver supplies to those still in the city had to be re-tasked to search and rescue operations, and as anyone who has been watching tv knows, there were thousands of people on rooftops, etc. needing evac ASAP.
3. This retasking prevented relief efforts from beginning as quickly as they would have. Remember, there were a very limited number of roads passable for the multi-ton trucks carrying the supplies (see post from yesterday); a major airdrop is all but impossible in an urban setting (more in another of yesterday's posts); and the only remaining option -- driving supplies in by smaller trucks -- just takes a long time.
As I've stated more than once, mistakes were made. But determining precisely what was or wasn't done, who erred, etc. is far more complex than many apparently realize.