Hurricane Update: Rita Shifts West

New York City, As monster hurricane Rita made a slight left-hand turn last night, shifting its center westward toward Louisiana. Galveston, Texas, residents became hopeful that their town might not take the brunt of the storm. Yet, the shift spells potential doom for people on the Texas/Louisiana line.

At local Wal-Mart stores yesterday, people stocked up on survival supplies. “There’s not a single person that’s come in here that’s not buying something to survive with,” said Betty Pfeifer, an assistant manager at an Austin, Texas Wal-Mart store. “They’re buying air mattresses, flashlights, candles, batteries—everything.”

Even stores as well-stocked as Wal-Mart and Costco are being tested, as one hurricane so quickly on the heels of another has drained inventories. San Antonio, Texas-based HEB grocery chain implemented a disaster-response plan yesterday, ordering significant increases of bread, crackers, canned meat and batteries. Those supplies are stacked in warehouses, awaiting shipment to affected areas.

Rita, downgraded to a Category 3 hurricane, is expected to make landfall late tonight or early tomorrow morning somewhere between Beaumont, Texas, and Lake Charles, La.

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