US President George W. Bush declared on Wednesday a state of emergency in Texas and Louisiana, at a time when both states were bracing for Hurricane Rita, the White House said.
Rita, which picked up strength and has turned into a Category-5 hurricane, could slam Texas by the weekend and bring floodwater to New Orleans, which was battered by Hurricane Katrina just over three weeks ago.
As many as 1 million people were ordered to evacuate along the Gulf Coast, and hospital and nursing home patients were evacuated Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the death toll from Katrina along the Gulf Coast rose over 1,000 Wednesday to 1,036. The Louisiana state Health Department updated fatalities in the state to 799.