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Last Updated: Friday September 23 2005 19:31 GMT

Texas braced for Hurricane Rita

Satellite image of Hurricane Rita
Two million people have fled the Texas and Louisiana coasts as the area prepares for Hurricane Rita to hit.

The storm, now downgraded to a Category Three hurricane, is expected to make landfall late on Friday or early on Saturday morning.

In New Orleans the water is already rising faster than officials predicted.

Several levees have failed, flooding the city which had only just begun to dry out. Experts say the flood defences can only cope with 15cm of rain.

Throughout the day and night people have been struggling to flee the path of the storm, with miles of traffic jams in Texas and Louisiana as people travel inland to escape Rita.

Some of the towns in the path of the hurricane have been almost completely evacuated.

Danger warning

Traffic mounts as residents attempt to leave Galveston, Texas
Experts warn the storm is still "extremely dangerous", with winds of up to 125mph (201km/h).

Forecasters say the path of the storm is unpredictable, and the Gulf Coast as far west as Mexico is preparing for the hurricane.

In other developments:

  • Up to 24 elderly evacuees died when their bus caught fire on a motorway as they left Houston
  • President George W Bush is due to fly to Texas to see the preparations for the storm
  • National Guard lorries are taking fuel to petrol stations and stranded motorists in Texas
  • In Texas oil companies are closing refineries and taking workers back to shore

Have you been affected by Hurricane Rita? Are you in the path of the storm? Let us know your thoughts by using the form on the right hand side.

Your comments

My mum's brother lives in Texas. It's really scary! We haven't heard from them and we don't know where they're evacuating to!
Jayne, 14, Exeter

One of my best friends is from Houston and her dad's still out there. He's had to leave right away but she has no idea what will happen to the donkeys and goats on their farm as there is no transport to take them to safer areas.
Emma, 14, Cambridge

I just left Texas this morning. I am really frightened about the storm and I hope it is going to be nothing like Katrina. I would be devastated to go home find I had nothing at all left. It would be the worst thing on earth.
Beckie, 13, Texas

I have a friend and her parents and brother live in Texas. I hope that she will be all right.
Lauren, 9, Scotland

If Rita comes to Florida it will be the second category five hurricane I have lived through.
Daniel,12, Florida

I have a friend who has relatives in both Texas and New Orleans. When the evacuation of New Orleans happened her relatives fled to Texas, but now there is a hurricane headed there, too. As far as I know, they have no relatives anywhere else in the States, so I am wondering where they are going to go.
Eleanor,12, Tokyo

I think these people have been through enough at the moment. I watch back on Katrina and think how devastating that was, and when they try to get back to normal...another one comes along..
Sian,14, Burnham-on-Sea

Even though I live in Canada, I think evacuating people from their homes is a good idea.
Ronald, 11, Mississauga

I think now that Katrina has taken its toll on the U.S. that we will know to get out, and they have to remember that when Katrina was near the coast, it was a category 3 or 4.
Alicia., 11, Marthaville

I think this is not good at all. People just need to try and avoid it by leaving the city before thousands more people are affected.
Gemma, 12, Nottingham

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