"Morning Edition, September 23, 2005 · In the days before Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, officials in local, state and federal governments held a series of telephone conference calls aimed at coordinating their responses to the storm. The sessions were recorded by Walter Maestri, emergency manager for Jefferson Parish, who shared them with NPR."
"As emergency preparations gave way to coordinated actions and pleas for equipment, the recorded calls depict an emergency command center in Baton Rouge that became a center of frenzied activity."
It seems that Walter Maestri shared these tapes with NPR to show how the local governments were in constant contact (to no avail) with Jeff Smith, deputy director of Louisiana's Office of Emergency Preparedness, who in turn was the liaison with FEMA.
"On the morning of Monday, Sept. 5, with Katrina making its way inland from the Gulf Coast, Maestri said on the call, "Things are collapsing." And questions persisted over who was in charge: "So FEMA will coordinate emergency supplies?" Maestri asked. Soon after, communications were lost, and the next conference call took place nearly two weeks later.
"The calls could play a role in any investigation -- whether by the White House or by Congress -- into why the initial response to Katrina failed to match the scale of the hurricane's impact on the region."
While I feel there are plenty who will take the blame (and many who will continue to deny it) for how governments on all levels failed when it came to Katrina, these tapes reflect how local government was in contact in expressing their concerns and what they saw as impact issues in executing various proposed plans.
Of course - PRE-preparedness was the key here... and no one seemed to either have a plan in place or that plan was faulty or impractical considering the magnitude of this storm.