State and local governments along the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts were overwhelmed by Hurricane Katrina and lacked the capacity to function without outside assistance. Mutual aid agreements are common among communities and provide essential surge capacity when catastrophes strike. The Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) is just such a mechanism for sharing resources. How well or how poorly governors use EMAC depends on their familiarity with the system and how prepared their state and local agencies are to integrate EMAC personnel and other resources. Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco of Louisiana was less familiar with EMAC than was Governor Haley Barbour in Mississippi and had less assistance in using the system. State and local officials in Louisiana were also less familiar with mutual assistance compacts than their counterparts in Mississippi. The integration of EMAC assets into state and local operations was easier in Mississippi because officials had set up an area command to coordinate operations.