Federal and state authorities are preparing for the possibility of a major hurricane.
Forecasters say Hurricane Rita, which now has 100 mile-per-hour winds, could intensify in the Gulf of Mexico into a Category Four storm with winds of at least 131 miles-per-hour. According to the National Hurricane Center, the most likely destination by week's end is Texas, although Louisiana and northern Mexico are possibilities.
The island-city of Galveston has issued a mandatory evacuation effective Wednesday. Among the first scheduled to be moved are nursing home residents.
Meanwhile, acting FEMA Director David Paulison says that the agency has aircraft and buses available to evacuate residents of areas the hurricane might hit.
Rita started the day as a tropical storm, but gained power as it cruised through the Florida Straits between the Keys and Cuba.