For all the criticism of the Bush administration's confused response to Hurricane Katrina, at least two federal agencies got it right: the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center.
They forecast the path of the storm and the potential for devastation with remarkable accuracy.
The performance by the two agencies calls into question claims by President Bush and others in his administration that Katrina was a catastrophe that no one envisioned.
National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield gave daily pre-storm videoconference briefings to federal officials in Washington. He warned officials of a nightmare scenario of New Orleans' levees not holding, winds smashing windows in high-rise buildings and flooding wiping out large swaths of the Gulf Coast.
A photo on the White House Web site shows Bush in Crawford, Texas, watching Mayfield give a briefing on Aug. 28, a day before Katrina smashed ashore with 145 mile-an-hour winds.
The National Weather Service office in Slidell, which covers the New Orleans area, put out its own warnings that day, saying, "MOST OF THE AREA WILL BE UNINHABITABLE FOR WEEKS ... PERHAPS LONGER" and predicting "HUMAN SUFFERING INCREDIBLE BY MODERN STANDARDS."
Mayfield and Paul Trotter, the meteorologist in charge of the Slidell office, both refused to criticize the federal response.