Hurricane Katrina has gained momentum in the Gulf of Mexico and is poised for a second and potentially more deadly assault on the mainland. It has already killed at least six people in Florida but slowed down as it swept across the state.
Now, with winds reaching 185 kilometres per hour, it is moving northwards on a course that could see it come ashore anywhere between the Florida Panhandle and the vulnerable city of New Orleans in Louisiana.
Florida Governor Jeb Bush says hardened residents of his storm-scarred state will be ready.
“We have ample resources to meet whatever comes,” he said.
“I worry more about the strains on family life in our state. I worry more about communities that have been hard hit already preparing for another storm.
“It is not just the physical loss of property. It is the psychological aspects of this.”
High oil prices eased when initial predictions suggested Katrina would spare most of the US oil and gas production rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. That bet now, however, looks increasingly uncertain.