America’s Gulf Coast has been placed on maximum alert after authorities upgraded Hurricane Rita to a Category 4 storm. Blowing gales of nearly 200 kph, Rita has already lashed Cuba and the Florida Keys, however it did not get close enough to reach the vulnerable chain of islands with its most destructive forces. But as it continues its path inland, David Paulison, the man in charge of federal emergencies, is not taking any chances.“This could be a very large storm after it moves into the Gulf, as warm as these waters are today. So please, listen to state officials, listen to your local officials. And if they ask you to evacuate, please do so immediately.” Convincing returning residents to leave their homes may again prove to be a major problem for authorities. Oil prices have also shot up amid fears Hurricane Rita is on a course that could take it to Texas, dumping more rain on Katrina-battered Louisana on its way. Weather forecasters say a major hurricane could send a six-metre storm surge over Texas by Saturday.