Rescue and recovery operations are continuing in Texas and Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Rita, as officials attempt to coordinate the return of hundreds of thousands of people to areas affected by the storm.
Authorities in Texas on Sunday announced a plan for evacuees to return in a staggered fashion, starting with the areas least affected by the hurricane. Residents in two hard-hit towns along the U.S. Gulf Coast in Beaumont and Port Arthur, however, may not be able to return to their homes for weeks due to extensive flooding and wind damage.
Energy officials say damage to refineries and oil and gas production facilities is not as bad as initially feared, and normal operations could be underway in a matter of days.
The recovery of the energy industry in the Gulf Coast region is vital for Americans, as more than 25-percent of the nation's refined oil products come from the area.