AGAIN WITH FEMA?…. ThinkProgress reports this afternoon that news outlets have been blocked from covering Hurricane Ike’s devastation along Texas’ Gulf Coast, and reporters aren’t even allowed to fly over parts of Galveston Island. Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), who tried to dodge the questions on this earlier today, eventually passed the buck to the feds.

What’s up? It’s hard to say for sure at this point, but the Houston Chronicle reports that when it comes to responding to the storm, we are once again seeing conflicts between FEMA, state, and local officials. (thanks to reader R.S. for the tip)

It didn’t take long for the finger-pointing to begin. The Federal Emergency Management Agency came under fire Sunday as emergency workers were left undernourished and dozens of trucks of water and food had yet to be set up at distribution centers around Houston and surrounding communities.

And no sooner had the agency — widely condemned for its glacial response to suffering after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 — drawn sharp criticism as its leaders and spokesmen began to say it was someone else’s fault.

Earlier in the day, a FEMA spokesman said delays in setting up staging points to hand out needed provisions had been caused by blocked roads.

By the evening, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said it was the fault of state officials who handed his department the “unexpected challenge” of having to prepare distribution points in addition to delivering supplies.

State officials said that was a local responsibility, which came as a surprise to Houston Mayor Bill White and Harris County Judge Ed Emmett.

Rep. Nick Lampson, a Democrat, said FEMA told him before the storm that there was food and water already staged at a local Air National Guard base. “Now it’s on the way? That doesn’t make any sense to me,” he said. “I don’t know what happened…. The storm’s been over for 30 hours.

Rep. John Culberson, a Republican, said he was “outraged” at the agency because first responders at two staging areas are without food and water.

The Chicago Tribune’s Frank James added, “After a massive disaster such as the one now playing out in the Gulf States, there are bound to be disruptions to the best laid plans since communications and transportation are tenuous at best. But it appears that a little more may be at play here since the feds, state and locals are all pointing fingers at one another about who was responsible for distributing food, for instance. This seems like an obvious weakness in the response plan that will no doubt get some scrutiny after the rescue phase of the response effort enters the recovery phase. There shouldn’t be any confusion about this.”

This may be another FEMA breakdown, or it may be some bureaucratic infighting that doesn’t amount to much. The fact that the media is being blocked, though, isn’t encouraging.

Is there anyone local who can comment on the government’s response thus far?

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.