According to a Knight Ridder article, it was Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff who had the power and responsibility to react to hurricane Katrina — not then FEMA chief Michael Brown.
But Chertoff – not Brown – was in charge of managing the national response to a catastrophic disaster, according to the National Response Plan, the federal government’s blueprint for how agencies will handle major natural disasters or terrorist incidents. An order issued by President Bush in 2003 also assigned that responsibility to the homeland security director.
But according to a memo obtained by Knight Ridder, Chertoff didn’t shift that power to Brown until late afternoon or evening on Aug. 30, about 36 hours after Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi. That same memo suggests that Chertoff may have been confused about his lead role in disaster response and that of his department.
The rest of the article is worth reading.
Knight Ridder: Chertoff delayed federal response, memo shows