--- The wetlands, a natural protection, didn't protect the Gulf Coast because of administration policies that allowed this destruction, the result of expanded drilling.
--- The President and his senior staff were slow in personally responding. He, Vice-President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice were on vacation. Rumsfeld, who stayed in San Diego to attend a baseball game, could have ordered a full military response. Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) was involved in fund-raising.
--- Inter-agency communications, as had been the case four years earlier at 9/11, was still a jumble, with agencies having their own guarded frequencies and unable to communicate with other agencies.
--- local and state politicians hadn't adequately prepared for a disaster. There were weak plans for shelter and evacuation. Conservatives placed most of the blame upon the local and state politicians, many of them Democrats. The conservatives, opposed to big government, argued the local and state should have carried the load. However, our analysis was that although there were local problems, the burden should have been on the federal government because Katrina was a multi-state disaster, and the states didn't have the personnel and resources to effectively respond to a catastrophic disaster.
There was a lot more we learned, and reported upon.
But one thing we didn't report is the role of Barack Obama. We had never heard of him in 2005.
[Rosemary R. Brasch for more than a decade was a Red Cross family services specialist whose assignments took her throughout the United States in response to natural disasters, including floods in Louisiana and 9/11. Walter M. Brasch, who once was active in emergency management, is author of the critically-acclaimed "Unacceptable': America's Response to Hurricane Katrina, published one year after the devastation in the Gulf Coast.]