* Mandatory evacuations are in effect for:
o Cameron Parish in Louisiana
o Aransas, Calhoun, Jackson, Kleberg, Refugio, San Patricio counties in Texas
o The cities of Corpus Christi and Port Aransas in Nueces County, Texas
o Southern two-thirds of Matagorda County, Texas
o Zone A of Harris County, Texas
o Zone A of Galveston County, Texas
o Zone A of Brazoria County, Texas
Scheduled to take effect September 22:
* At 2 am CDT (0700 UTC):
o Zone B of Galveston and Brazoria Counties
* At 6 am CDT (1100 UTC):
o Zone C of Galveston and Brazoria Counties
o Zones B and C of Harris County
o Sabine Pass, Texas
* At 8am CDT (1300 UTC):
o Victoria County, Texas
* At 10am CDT (1500 UTC):
o Goliad County, Texas
Rita's approach changed New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin's plans to begin reopening the city on Monday, September 19.  The plan had already come under heavy criticism from federal officials, and Nagin reversed his decision while Rita was still a tropical storm near the Florida Keys. Instead, a re-evacuation of the city was initiated on Wednesday, September 21. Even though Rita's forecast track keeps the center of circulation well to the south and west of New Orleans, even a glancing strike could be extremely deleterious as the Army Corps of Engineers estimates that as little as six inches of rain (a small amount for a typical tropical system) could overwhelm the fragile levee system as repairs continue. 
In addition, residents of Cameron Parish, and residents of Calcasieu Parish south of Interstate 10 were told to evacuate.
Hurricane Rita has caused some worry as current forecasts predict a close landfall as a major storm by Houston, Texas. Houston has four major bayous passing through the city: Buffalo Bayou, which runs into downtown; Brays Bayou, which runs along the Texas Medical Center; White Oak Bayou, which runs through the Heights and near the northwest area; and Sims Bayou, which runs through the south of Houston and downtown Houston, merging into the Houston Ship Channel. The ship channel goes past Galveston and into the Gulf of Mexico.
Most of Houston is flat, making flooding an increasing problem for its residents. The city stands about 50 feet (15 m) above sea level; the Houston Heights area has the highest elevation in the city. In 2001 significant portions of the city were flooded by a comparatively weak Tropical Storm Allison that stalled over the city, dropping over 30 inches (750 mm) of rain on some parts of the city.
Concerns have been raised over the state of the oil industry in response to Rita. The storm threatens a large amount of oil infrastructure that was left undamaged by Katrina. The Texas gulf coast is home to 23% of the United States' refining capacity, and numerous offshore production platforms are potentially in Rita's path. While no potential storm path would threaten all of the capacity at once, a direct strike on Houston could disable up to 8% of the nation's refining capacity. Valero Energy Corp, the nation's largest refiner, stated on Sept. 21st that Rita could cause gasoline prices to rise above $3 per gallon. Currently, landfall is expected further south along the Gulf Coast.