The reports of the looting dominated much of the coverage of the Katrina aftermath. Yet the focus on officials and pundits calling for the imposition of "law and order" in a city that required boats and waders to navigate simply distracted from the real emergency, the thousands of individuals who were struggling to save their lives, not their possessions.
It allows those who are concerned with their image to appear to call for action without posing any hint of a plan or strategy.
Looting and violence are a part of any large-scale breakdown in order, but their impact varies.
In many cases, the things of greatest valuable, the people trapped in the chaos, remain unprotected and uncared for.