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Powerful Hurricane Heads for US Gulf Coast


The Gulf Coast of the southern United States is bracing for one of the worst storms in decades, and President Bush is personally appealing to residents to seek higher ground. Mr. Bush says local, state, and federal governments are doing all they can to help people affected by Hurricane Katrina.

The biggest city in the path of the hurricane is New Orleans, Louisiana where officials say they face the storm of a lifetime.

President Bush has already mobilized federal disaster teams in both Louisiana and neighboring Mississippi. And with the storm gaining strength as it neared the Gulf Coast, he went before reporters and television cameras at his Texas ranch to make a personal appeal to people in affected areas.

"We cannot stress enough the danger this hurricane poses to Gulf Coast communities," said President Bush. "I urge all citizens to put their own safety and the safety of their families first by moving to safe ground."

A city-wide evacuation is now underway in New Orleans, which lies below sea level and faces potentially catastrophic flooding. Hurricane Katrina, which is packing winds of more than 250 kilometers an hour, is currently a category five hurricane - a ranking used rarely and reserved for only the strongest and most severe storms.