A convoy of buses that set out Friday to rescue New Orleans evacuees is scheduled to return this morning largely empty-handed, but city officials say the effort was not in vain.

A caravan of 10 motor coaches, staffed with medical crews, social service workers and police officers, departed Friday in hopes of bringing 400 evacuees to the District and sheltering them at the D.C. Armory. By the time they made it to New Orleans, though, crowds at the convention center and Superdome had been evacuated, city officials said. The caravan tried other areas, but crowds had been cleared or evacuees declined a free trip to the capital.

The District's convoy carried 19 social service workers, two mental health workers, three emergency management employees, two doctors and one physician assistant from Georgetown University and 28 police officers, said Jo'Ellen Countee, a spokeswoman for the D.C. Emergency Management Agency.

As the buses returned, Countee said, the only evacuees on board were one or two college students who needed to get to Washington.

Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large) said the mission was a success. The convoy delivered food, water, fuel, diapers and medical aid and equipment to evacuees and emergency responders.

The District received about 200 evacuees yesterday, flown in from New Orleans International Airport.