Hurricane Rita has strengthened into a Category Four storm packing winds up to 135-miles-per hour.
The National Hurricane Center says Rita could strengthen even more as it steams across the Gulf of Mexico in the next 24 hours. Concerns have deepened that the storm could target Texas and already-battered Louisiana by week's end.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff urged residents to heed calls for evacuation.
He says the best place to be if Rita hits is somewhere else.
Texas Governor Rick Perry tells N-B-C his state is as ready as it can be and Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco has declared a state of emergency.
Emergency officials say it won't take much to breach the city's battered levees.