The public's desire to assign blame for government's inadequate response to Hurricane Katrina has largely focused on the federal government's slow and seemingly inept response to the storm. In their own defense, federal officials cast federalism--the system that divides power among federal, state, and local governments--as the main culprit underlying their inadequate response to hurricane victims. Had power and authority not been split among three different units of government, the argument goes, the federal government might have been able to act more quickly to save lives and prevent suffering. In effect, federal authorities claim to have been hamstrung by a federalist system that relies on states and localities as first responders. As a consequence, some officials have called for greater federal control of disaster response and relief efforts.
Christina E. Wells, Katrina and the Rhetoric of Federalism, 26 Miss. C. L. Rev. 127 (2007)