It seems we've got part of our answer from James Lee Witt in this article
, which a number of readers were kind enough to send in.
Here's a passage ...
Being prepared for a disaster is basic emergency management, disaster experts say.
For example, in the 1990s, in planning for a New Orleans nightmare scenario, the federal government figured it would pre-deploy nearby ships with pumps to remove water from the below-sea-level city and have hospital ships nearby, said James Lee Witt, who was FEMA director under President Clinton.
Federal officials said a hospital ship would leave from Baltimore on Friday.
"These things need to be planned and prepared for; it just doesn't look like it was," said Witt, a former Arkansas disaster chief who won bipartisan praise on Capitol Hill during his tenure.
FEMA said some of its response teams were prepared.
Some were prepared.