Novelist Anne Rice (search) harshly criticized the response to Hurricane Katrina's aftermath in her old hometown of New Orleans (search).

"Why did America ask a city cherished by millions and excoriated by some, but ignored by no one, to fight for its own life for so long? That's my question," Rice wrote in a New York Times op-ed piece published Sunday.

Rice, author of the "Vampire Chronicles" books including "Interview with the Vampire," said people have asked her in recent days why so many people stayed behind when they knew the hurricane was coming.

"They didn't have any place to go," she wrote. "They are the poor, black and white, who dwell in any city in great numbers; and they did what they felt they could do — they huddled together in the strongest houses they could find. There was no way to up and leave and check into the nearest Ramada Inn."

Thousands more stayed in the city to help their fellow residents, she wrote, and struggled to save lives as the nation watched, she said.

Rice, who now lives in the San Diego area, believes New Orleans will be rebuilt and that people will still live there because it is where their families have lived for generations.

"But to my country I want to say this: During this crisis you failed us. You looked down on us; you dismissed our victims; you dismissed us," Rice wrote.

"You want our Jazz Fest, you want our Mardi Gras, you want our cooking and our music," she continued. "Then when you saw us in real trouble, when you saw a tiny minority preying on the weak among us, you called us 'Sin City,' and turned your backs."