The tragic of New Orleans is an accumulation of human error and ignorance and it is also a very sad situation. I wouldn't know where to start blaming or whether there is a specific set of institutions to blame, rather than the whole state.
The USA has become a Leviathan, not fully socialist and certainly not liberal. The problem is that inefficiency is the highest in this state. If we displayed inefficiency of the state in emergency situations, we could visualize it as a top-down parabel. If you have a completely free state or even no state (Minarchism vs. Anarchism is not to be discussed at this point), you will have a higher effeciency due to the flexibility of the markets.
Almost the same amount of efficiency can be found when you have almost no liberty. Then the state has all the ressources and can act without delay. The problem is that then the military is the only effective asset and in the end, your situation will still be miserable.
The latter effect can be seen at other sites of the recent Taifun/Hurricane wave, f.e. in Cuba and China. They evacuated all of the coastal areas with force and therefore had almost lost nobody. However, those citizens won't have the same joy, when returning to their homes as the (relatively free) American citizens.
As I see it, there are two possible solutions to avoid massive disasters like New Orleans and only one is optimal: the free society. The other can't be optimal, because the people are initially less well-off than the ones in a free society.