Hurricane Andrew (1992 I think) literally blew away the entire town of Homestead and made all the rest of southern Miami-Dade County a ruin. One of my co-workers lived in an area called Perrine, where the winds had left some things behind, like heavy appliances.
That storm deserved all the hype. But in the aftermath, this co-worker and her husband took turns sitting guard 24/7 with a big gun, for weeks.
The head of Emergency Management was clueless and powerless. About a couple of weeks after the storm passed, she finally complained to the press: “Where is the Calvary on this one?” George Bush was ready for it and blamed Governor Chiles with a shrug: His hands are tired, he can’t do anything until the governor requests (implied military) help. So Chiles (as if “Nobody told me”) immediately calls up Bush.
FEMA, what’s that? That came later. But Hurricane Andrew was the first major (natural) disaster where the Feds were expected to be the first responders, as I remember it.
The very first people on the scene (before the Cavalry) were some missionaries I had worked with in Latin America, with food, water, blankets. (Bush even gave them some recognition when he came down to tour).