But thousands of people appeared to still be trapped by floodwaters, according to officials, with reports circulating of rotting bodies being left for days in steaming hot summer weather.
Not a room was to be found within a 250-mile (400-kilometre) radius of New Orleans, and many of those already in hastily booked accommodation found money fast running out.
"The majority of hotels have been cooperative," said Angele Davis, secretary of the Louisiana department of culture tourism and recreation.
"We strongly urge them to continue to accept them," she said at an emergency operations center set up in Baton Rouge.
But there were reports that some local hoteliers were asking evacuees to leave by Friday, and as afar afield as Houston, Texas, a five hour drive to the west, there were isolated incidents of hotels raising prices.
"We are working to try to get hotels to keep their doors open so these people can stay there as long as possible," said Louisiana Lieutentant Governor Mitch Landrieu.
In Houston, people who fled before Katrina barrelled into the coast on Monday, but lost their homes to a deadly storm tide, turned up at the Astrodome, only to be told the stadium was for Superdome needy only.
Tens of emergency shelters had been set up around Houston however, and local high schools were instructed to accept children pulled out of the disaster zone.
The acceptance of children pulled out of the disaster zone is of course what must be done. But I'm terribly worried about parents looking for their children... in the aftermath of 9/11, a ruling was sent to the schools that in case of emergency, children were not to be released to their parents. Well - I know at least one mother who read that and thought - then my child won't be in school on those code red days... because I'll be d@mned if they are going to keep me from my child in a code red situation.
Rhonda Braden walks through a neighborhood destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in Long Beach, Miss.
By Rob Carr, AP
There was no power, little to eat or drink and no sign of a quick recovery. Even the little things proved all but impossible.
Bruce Brookshire, 57, rigged up a shower outside his heavily damaged house, hanging it from a big oak tree in his yard. His next mission: finding some water for it.
"This is a shower stall," he said. "My wife said she's not going out here naked. So I told her to wear her bathing suit."
We don't always think about the little things... like trying to be clean...
Larry Gregory, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, said Harrah's, which operated two large casinos in Biloxi and Gulfport, has promised to pay its workers for the next 90 days and is offering housing in one of its hotels. But he said it's uncertain how many casinos will be rebuilt.
"People are very appreciative," chef Andrew Fountain said.
As Adkins and Fountain served charcoal-grilled burgers, police were arresting two men for allegedly looting a Phillips 66 gas station across the street. Looters have been prowling here practically since the rain stopped Monday. Some residents have armed themselves to protect their property.
In uptown New Orleans, managers at a nursing home had stockpiled enough food for 10 days until looters arrived. "Now we'll have to equip our department heads with guns and teach them how to shoot," Peggy Hoffman, the home's executive director, told The Associated Press on Wednesday as the residents were being evacuated.