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Confusion surrounds evacuation order

Will the high-water holdouts be kicked out or not? NBC's John Seigenthaler reports on confusion over forced evacuation in New Orleans.
/ Source: NBC News

NEW ORLEANS - For days, military troops and law enforcement officials have been knocking on doors, looking for stranded people to save. And every day they've found people who don't want to be rescued.

At some point, this will reach an impasse, and search and rescue teams in the field have told NBC News they're not sure what to do then.

"We’ve not be given an order yet that it's mandatory,” says Greg Marcantel, Bernalillo County New Mexico Sheriff's Department. “If it were mandatory, we could at that point take folks out in a systematic way door to door."

On Friday, the city attorney said officials still aren't making people leave.

“We are aware of rumors that soldiers have kicked in doors and dragged people out of their homes,”says New Orleans City Attorney Sherry Landry.“We have not been able to confirm any of those rumors.”

The pictures say something else.

Friday, FEMA's new commander, Thad Allen, said evacuation is a critical step in putting the city back together. 

"I think we need to be very careful how we talk about how we re-enter these neighborhoods," says Allen. "There may be hazardous chemicals that have entered the water." 

But even if officials start kicking people out, the question is will people stay out? 

Chris and Leslie Martin worked their way around the checkpoint on Friday, to see what was left of their home and their things.

"I'm six months pregnant," she says. "We want to have a family here. We don't want to live anywhere else. This is our home."

On Friday, at least, they were in no rush to leave.