One sober-minded, one less so.
First. Jonathan's post drives home further the essence of what Jim said: this was a Solution Unsatisfactory situation. The resources that would have been required to save large numbers of lives were trivially, pathetically small-- well within the reach of any institution, public or private, that was in the right place and had an incentive to think things through. But there is no sort of institution that has such an incentive.
Second. Nonetheless, when people in our voluntary society realized the Feds just weren't cutting the mustard, they put on-- continue to put on-- an amazing, inspiring display. The Red Cross coffers are swelled with nearly $200 million in donations. Their volunteer training classes attract a huge response. (The National Guard, mind-bogglingly, won't let them into New Orleans). Thousands of random strangers have opened their homes to those made homeless.
Rarely has it been so clear how much we, the ordinary people of this country, are better than our rulers. I hope that lesson is not lost on anyone, of any political persuasion. We are better than them and there is no good reason anymore-- if ever there was-- to keep on putting up with their lies.