From Roger Pielke, Jr.'s blog, a fascinating paper correlating excessive deaths in earthquakes to the level of governmental corruption in the nation struck by the quake.
The paper demonstrates a higher level of corruption = excess deaths. This is due to weakened building codes, inferior construction materials, etc.
Here in the United States corruption is less of a problem than bureaucracy. See the "Murder by Bureaucracy" chapter in Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather. As my investigation revealed, there is no doubt that hundreds died needlessly in Katrina due to bureaucracy at all levels of government.