Hurricane Rita has weakened into a tropical storm, but it is dumping heavy rain on parts of Texas and Louisiana after coming ashore hours earlier.
Rita's maximum sustained winds are now estimated at around 100 kilometers per hour, down from a peak of almost 200 kilometers per hour when it made landfall. Officials say the slow-moving storm now poses a threat with torrential rains that could last several days. In Rita's wake, low-lying regions of the two Gulf states are flooded, hundreds of thousands of homes are without power, and widespread damage is reported in several coastal towns. Hurricane-spawned tornadoes also were reported. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
The nation's fourth-largest city, Houston, apparently was spared the worst of the massive storm. Meanwhile, New Orleans, which is still recovering from Hurricane Katrina, experienced a storm surge that sent water over damaged levees and flooded parts of the city again. Federal officials say it will be hours before they can assess the full extent of the damage.