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Last Updated: Monday, 26 September 2005, 16:57 GMT 17:57 UK
Hurricane Rita: The impact
Hurricane Rita hit the Texas and Louisiana coast early on Saturday local time. Although weaker than feared, the storm sparked a 4.6m (15ft) surge which flooded towns along the Louisiana coastline. The BBC News website examines the damage left in Hurricane Rita's trail.


Hurricane Rita veered eastwards, missing Houston and making landfall just east of the Texas town of Sabine Pass.

The towns of Port Arthur, Lake Charles, Beaumont and Abbeville were among the worst affected. Power lines were downed, trees uprooted and cars tossed across roads.

In Abbeville, floodwaters were 2.74m (9ft) deep in some areas.

Officials said that the mandatory evacuations ordered for a swathe of land south of Houston had minimised the number of deaths.

Only one person was reported to have been killed as a direct result of the hurricane.

The cost of the damage was estimated at $6bn


After a mass exodus which blocked roads out of Texas' biggest city, Houston was spared the force of the category 3 storm.

Rita left most of the refineries that account for much of the city's economy untouched. The US energy department said it was "cautiously optimistic" about the impact on the city's energy industry.


There was relief in the town of Galveston as it was spared a direct hit.

The town is only about 6m (20ft) above sea level and situated on a barrier island.

Galveston was hit disastrously in 1900 by a Category Four hurricane which left 8,000 dead.

When the town was rebuilt, sand from the bay was used to build the island up to a higher level and a 5.2m (17ft) sea wall was constructed.

At least 90% of the town's 57,000 fled ahead of the storm.


New Orleans graphic

In New Orleans, Hurricane Rita compounded the earlier effects of Katrina, with floodwaters breaching holes in already weakened levees.

With waters rising to 2.4m (8ft) in some areas, engineers warned it could take at least two weeks to pump water from the worst-affected neighbourhoods.

Some 500 people were rescued when the waters rose just south of the city.

Large areas of the city remain without fresh water, power and sanitation.


Some 745 oil rigs and platforms along the Gulf of Mexico's coastline were evacuated ahead of the storm, the US government says.

In Texas, which processes a quarter of US oil, there had been fears that at least 16 of the state's 26 refineries would be affected.

The damage caused by Rita still has to be assessed.

Houston's many refineries were unscathed as the storm veered well to the east of the city.

But a refinery in Port Arthur seems to have been seriously damaged and two in Louisiana may also have been hit.

Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco says a key natural gas installation, which channels a third of the nation's natural gas, has also been damaged.


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