Forecasters say Hurricane Rita has weakened somewhat in the last hours, but remains a very dangerous storm heading for Texas and Louisiana.
Meanwhile, water is rushing over a levee in New Orleans, causing new flooding in the city still recovering from Hurricane Katrina.
The National Weather Service says the current storm is about 350 kilometers southeast of Galveston, Texas, and packing winds near 220 kilometer per hour. It is expected to hit the Texas-Louisiana coast early Saturday.
Tens of thousands of people are evacuating the area, creating massive traffic jams.
Officials say as many as 24 elderly evacuees were killed in a bus fire outside Dallas, Friday. Authorities say they believe the bus caught fire, then oxygen tanks on the bus exploded, fueling the blaze that engulfed the vehicle.
President Bush is planning to check on storm preparations during visits Friday to Texas and a U.S. military command post in Colorado.
Some information for this report provided by AP.