Police in New Orleans say they will enforce the mayor's order for people to evacuate the flood-swamped U.S. city.

Speaking at a news conference Wednesday, city police officials said they will rescue voluntary evacuees first, then go after the holdouts using the "minimal amount of force necessary."

At least several thousand New Orleans residents have chosen to stay in their homes despite scattered fires and appeals from city officials to leave.

Search and rescue efforts continue as engineers pump out the floodwaters brought on by Hurricane Katrina nine days ago.

Official death tolls from the storm remain lower than expected -- 83 in the state of Louisiana, 196 in the neighboring state of Mississippi.

But officials expect those numbers to rise as work crews inspect the tens of thousands of homes submerged and damaged by the storm.

A White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, says 180,000 hurricane victims remain in shelters around the country. Thousands more have found new housing or are staying with friends and relatives.

The White House says the Katrina relief fund headed by former presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush has raised $60-million in pledges so far.