UPDATE: Rita Makes Landfall on Texas-Louisiana Coast, Storm Falls to a CAT 1

September 23, 2005

Hurricane Rita made impact on the Texas-Louisiana coast Friday night into Saturday, with flooding for coastal towns, major wind damage, and several fires. Houston, however, seemed to be spared the worst of it as the storm barely stayed at hurricane status as of late Saturday morning.

Rita, which at one time was a Category 5 storm out in the Gulf of Mexico, came ashore as a Category 3, but had sustained winds at 75 mph late Saturday morning, making it barely a Category 1 storm.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry urged those who evacuated Houston and other areas not to come home until officials determine their communities to be safe.

While some 2 million residents had already evacuated Houston and other areas, the ability to return quickly to one’s home may not occur. Forecasters say that while the storm will diminish quickly from its hurricane status, a pair of high pressure systems surrounding the storm will essentially make it stall out over portions of Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas, likely for three to four days. The fear is that anywhere from 20-30 inches of rain may fall over that area well into next week.

Several fires broke out Friday evening in downtown Galveston, Texas, with one building reportedly being destroyed. Firefighters were battling gusty winds of up to 70 mph, which fanned the flames.

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