Quote Originally Posted by aka pumpmaster View Post
Actually for Katrina it is the local (city/state) job to respond and THEN ask for federal assistance if they need it. I wasn't the feds job to jump in from the get go.
That is true for lesser emergencies, but not so for large scale disastors especially when there are multi-state effects. For example, contrast the two approaches taken
* August 30, 2005 — Secretary Michael Chertoff invoked the National Response Plan the day after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast on the morning of August 29, 2005. By so doing, the Secretary assumed the leadership role triggered by the law to bear primary responsibility to manage said crisis. The invocation occurred due to the inability of local and state government to handle the situation.
* September 22, 2005 — In advance of the landfall of Hurricane Rita, Chertoff declared the storm an incident of national significance and put preparations in place in the gulf region of Texas.

Ordinarily, only the Governor can initiate a request for a Presidential emergency or
major disaster declaration. In extraordinary circumstances, the President may
unilaterally make such a declaration. It is normal, and prudent, for the executive branch to initiate actions in anticipation of catastrophic events such as Katrina.