It didn’t take long for New Orleans to slide into chaos after the levee breaches in Hurricane Katrina.

And no wonder. The power was out; the water was off. Eighty percent of the town had been swallowed by Lake Pontchartrain. In the dry parts, fallen tree limbs blocked most streets.

With the interstate impassable in both directions, few vehicles were coming into the city, and not many were going out either. Most landlines were dead; cellphones with the 504 area code were basically paperweights. The Internet was inaccessible. Close to 100,000 people were marooned, most without any way of escape.

A city that can seem like it’s teetering on lawlessness in normal times felt like it had crossed into “Mad Max” territory.