Some other good sources are Making Light, twistedchick, and bradhicks. I especially like bradhicks's suggestion that refugees should be set up in cities (with appropriate aid) rather than in refugee camps.
I'm impressed with a society which is prosperous enough that 80% of a city in one of the poorer parts of the country could evacuate with their own resources. This is not as good as it should be, but I'm still giving credit where it's due.
The car thing: I've been hearing for years about America's love affair with cars and addiction to cheap gas--but what looks like waste in one context is excess capacity for emergencies in another. If all that had been available to move people was mass transit, there would (by definition, because mass transit involves moving more people with fewer vehicles) have been less ability to move them.
This may be a libertarian knee-jerk, but if the Feds were running low on money from the war in Iraq and homeland security, couldn't they have cut back on the war on drugs instead of cutting back on maintaining the levees?