FEMA's Initial Screw-Up
The original Federal Disaster Declaration
issued on August 27th
included every parish in Louisiana except those likely to be struck. It does not include New Orleans or the surrounding area.
A second Disaster Declaration
that included New Orleans was not issued until August 29th
These are from the White House site. They screwed up. The tip of Louisiana was the last area to receive a disaster declaration.
Nothing was being sent to New Orleans until after the storm because there was no authorization.
Update: The area in yellow are those parishes included in the 08/27/2005 declaration: