In the United States, the chief executive is typically empowered to declare a State of Emergency. The President of the United States, a governor of a state, or even a local mayor may declare a State of Emergency within his or her jurisdiction. This is relatively rare at the federal level, but quite common at the state level in response to natural disasters.
Typically, a state of emergency empowers the executive to name coordinating officials to deal with the emergency and to override normal administrative processes regarding the passage of administrative rules.
Katrina hit Louisiana. Blanco accepted, but paperwork needed to get the troops en route didn't come from Washington until late Thursday.
"We could have had people on the road Tuesday," Cutler said. "We have to wait and respond to their need."
The Michigan National Guard was asked for military police by Mississippi late Tuesday and by Louisiana officials late Wednesday. The state sent 182 MPs to Mississippi on Friday and had 242 headed to Louisiana on Saturday.
Bush had the legal authority to order the National Guard to the disaster area himself, as he did after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks . But the troops four years ago were deployed for national security protection, and presidents of both parties traditionally defer to governors to deploy their own National Guardsmen and request help from other states when it comes to natural disasters.
In addition to Guard help, the federal government could have activated, but did not, a major air support plan under a pre-existing contract with airlines. The program, called Civilian Reserve Air Fleet, lets the government quickly put private cargo and passenger planes into service.
So both are responsible to a degree...Blanco didn't request NG troops from other states for the most part soon enough and in the case where she DID, the paperwork was not sent from Washington in a timely fashion. Also The President DID have it in his power to order the Guard in himself and didn't...In this case he should have.