People in Texas are taking no chances after the lessons of Hurricane Katrina.More than a million people along the Texas coast are being told to leave theirhomes as Hurricane Rita developed into one of the strongest storms on record.
Rita has been upgraded to a Category 5 hurricane, which is the top of the scale, with winds of up to 280 kilometres an hour. Only three storms this powerful are known to have hit the US coast – most recently Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
One fleeing resident said: “I’ve been here a long time and have been through several of the hurricanes that have been through here, and I’ve just completely decided that this one has really been the worst warning that we’ve had, just the way it looks.”
Warnings have been issued for the US Gulf Coast from Fort Mansfield in Texas to Cameron in Louisiana. The hurricane is expected to come ashore late on Friday or early Saturday morning.
New Orleans is racing to get ready for Rita, just three weeks after Hurricane Katrina battered the city.
Although Rita is heading more towards Texas, even a partial impact could threaten fragile water defences and inflict new misery.