Governor’s Indecision Cost Precious Time:
Just before midnight on August 26, three days before Katrina was to make landfall, Kathleen Blanco received a phone call from George Bush. The president had been through a series of briefings from Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Hagin and knew the potential dangers to New Orleans and the surrounding area from a storm the size of Katrina. Now he was attempting to convince the Governor of Louisiana that she needed to take immediate action. His pleas fell on deaf ears. It seemed that the Governor was more concerned with the legalities of accepting federal assistance, and the appearance that her office could not handle the emergency.
Despite Governor Blanco’s reluctance to coordinate the state’s efforts with federal assistance, President Bush declared a state of emergency for Louisiana two full days before Katrina hit the Louisiana coast. The move allowed FEMA to begin staging relief supplies for immediate distribution in New Orleans once the storm had passed. The president's emergency declaration also allowed FEMA to coordinate all disaster relief efforts and to provide appropriate assistance in a number of Louisiana parishes. All that was left to do was wait for Kathleen Blanco to request Federal assistance. Under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, which was revised after 9/11, the Federal Government and FEMA are not allowed to interfere with local operations unless they are authorized by state and local leaders.
Meanwhile Blanco had her own advisors insisting that the President was actually making a request for federal takeover of the Louisiana National Guard, and asking to put Louisiana State Police under federal control. They were concerned that this would be the same as martial law and lead to abuse of power by the federal government.
The next day, August 27, Bush called Blanco again and urged her to order a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans, she refuses.
Read the rest. If your not familiar with the "real" chain of events, this timeline should provide you with a major eye opener.