FEMA's New Deal in California

"He's very smart, up front and communicates well and knows his role," said Brown. "He got on the news media, told what they were doing and ordered evacuation and didn't dally around. That would have made a huge difference in Katrina."

In 2006, Brown testified before Congress that Katrina -- the worst natural disaster to strike the United States -- "was beyond the capacity of the state and local governments, and it was beyond the capacity of FEMA."

But today, Brown said agencies can better handle these catastrophes by looking at "lessons learned, not lessons observed." Prevention is worth more than response, especially in California where homeowners continue to build in areas prone to wildfires, according to Brown.

The same could be said of New Orleans, where Brown has still not returned. Though Mayor Nagin told ABCNEWS.com his city was "coming back," Brown disagrees.

"No progress has been made in the systemic problems there in terms of social economics and politics," said Brown. "And the infrastructure of the levee system is the proof it is still struggling."

Still, Brown is sensitive about the blame game.

"What the public has not really learned is what their responsibility is," said Brown. "People under a lot of stress criticize, and there is still a segment of society that wants to blame."


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