Texas survives hurricane but New York may be next

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Officials there are taking the threat so seriously that they have drawn up a mass evacuation plan and have begun a poster campaign.

The National Hurricane Centre rates New York as the fifth most vulnerable area in the country. The top four have all been hit in the past two years. Max Mayfield, the centre's director, says the city is "especially vulnerable". Local experts believe flooding, as was shown in the movie The Day After Tomorrow, is "inevitable".

Rita is believed to have caused $8bn (£5bn) worth of damage, much less than the $150bn bill for Katrina.

Floods were caused up to 30 miles inland and, again, New Orleans suffered severe damage, but the main storm avoided Houston and most of the southern Texas oilfields.

Even Galveston, scene of a 1900 hurricane that left 6,000 people dead, appeared last night to have avoided the predicted "wipe-out".

Rita, classed as a maximum strength category 5 storm, had been downgraded to a category 2 by the time it came ashore. As many as three million people had left the region before it struck.