Emergency Preparedness Director Jerry Sneed said evacuations last year for Hurricane Gustav and Ike cost $100 million, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported.
Gustav hit just after the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
"Down the road somewhere, what we need to do is not evacuate out of the area but build a shelter than can hold our people, especially those that can't afford multiple evacuations, " Sneed said.
More than 1,400 people were killed by Katrina in New Orleans, the overwhelming majority elderly. About two-thirds drowned or died from injury or illness trapped in their homes, while the rest died from problems incurred during evacuation.
Studies have shown the only factor besides age that affected who lived and who died was how close they lived to the breached levees.
Sneed said he has already discussed plans for an in-city, fortress-style shelter with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. But he said the federal government is unlikely to move until another busy hurricane season hits.