Pretty big disclaimer; I do not live in the US, and I am not fluent in their emergency management procedures.
1. There's an earthquake/tornado/whatever and a large neighborhood in the city is destroyed. Citizen groups form up in an ad hoc manner to search the area and make sure that their neighbors are safe. Emergency services thanks the citizenry for their efforts.
rings very false for me. I live in New Zealand, and as most of you may or may not know we had a pretty serious earthquake (two big ones and uncounted aftershocks) a while back.
Authorities were very big on not
letting random members of the public get involved in search and rescue efforts. The phrases "leave it to the experts" and "too dangerous for the public" were bandied around a lot.
After the initial shocks, members of the public certainly helped out with random cleanup (there was a lot of liquefaction occurring) but that was well after the danger had passed.
Now the U.S may work quite differently, but I can't see why; in a natural disaster, it would be preferable from a law enforcement/emergency team perspective to have as little of the public involved as possible, IMO.
Your points about the Police/MilOps operations being largely ineffective and the public and 911 call being more effective are well received, but I understand and somewhat empathise with the decisions that were made in the effort of public safety.