LOOKY HERE, folks!
Seems like somebody's over at TPM Cafe unearthed a rather damaging policy document that says that "standard procedures regarding requests for assistance may be expedited or, under extreme circumstances, suspended in the immediate aftermath of an event of catastrophic magnitude!"
And, also, "Identified Federal response resources will deploy and begin necessary operations as required to commence life-safety activities....notification and full coordination with States will occur, but the coordination process must not delay or impede the rapid deployment and use of critical resources. States are urged to notify and coordinate with local governments regarding a proactive Federal response."
So the standing policy fits the moral case: that the situation was bad enough that the federal government...the most powerful organization in the WORLD... had a responsibility to step in and help. They were needed, and the people of New Orleans had every reason to believe they were coming.
The policy was ignored.