If there is one point of commonality in all the comparisons made between the attacks of September 11th and Katrina's devastation, it is that individuals once again succeeded where governments failed.
On 9/11, the government, city, state and federal, all failed utterly. The federal government failed to fight terrorism properly either at home or abroad and did nothing to act on the information they had or to even process the information they had. The city government contributed little even positioning the city's emergency command bunker in the WTC, despite the fact that it had already been attacked once. The radios used by firemen did not work properly inside the towers and the rebuilding of the towers has been badly blown.
Face to face with Katrina, the city, state and federal governments failed yet again. The evacuation was botched and mishandled leaving many inside the city. The supposed safety of the dome instead became a nightmare as tens of thousands were placed inside without security or supervision or even proper food and water. The federal government failed to get aid and provide security within any kind of reasonable time frame leaving some to die and the city to be overrun by armed gangs and arsonists.
We live in a time of increased federal power where we look to the government to solve all our problems for us. We have increasingly come to give up control over our own lives to bureaucrats and politicians, to the police; who in truth cannot help us but can only deprive and oppress us. We have adopted an attitude of learned helplessness, yet in the two major catastrophes to befall us this decade, it was individual courage contrasted with government incompetence and malfeasance that stood out.
On 9/11 it was the firemen, as individuals, cut off from contact and orders, outfitted with non-working radios, who climbed almost inconceivably to the top of the towers. It was the individual workers in the towers, whom the left views with unmitigated contempt and the right sees as pretexts for its policies, who helped each out and who stayed behind with disabled co-workers. During Katrina it was the individual doctors and nurses who cared for the sick when deprived of medicines and infrastructure and support. It was the individuals who went out to rescue people trapped and who made a difference while the government dragged its feet and the President giggled foolishly on tv.
America has been a society founded on individualism, as socialism has increasingly taught us to be helpless and dependent, it has weakened us but we are not done yet as 9/11 and the aftermath of Katrina have shown. We are strong to the extent that we help our neighbors and ourselves. We are weak to the extent that we place our trust in our unelected officials and their legions of bureaucrats to bail us out.