More damage ahead for Gulf Coast?

WAVELAND, Miss. – With clean-up just beginning in some areas hit by Hurricane Katrina last month, yet another hurricane is threatening the Gulf Coast.

Tropical storm Rita was upgraded to a hurricane as it spun toward Florida’s Keys earlier today. Though Florida is currently bearing the brunt of the strengthening storm, Rita is expected to grow in intensity as it moves beyond Florida’s southern tip into the Gulf of Mexico later today.

Rita is predicted to power up into a “dangerous major hurricane (winds over 110 mph) by the end of the week,” according to

Though the storm was originally feared to hit New Orleans, which has issued an evacuation order, it now is expected to land along the western Gulf Coast, probably in Texas.

Dozens of yacht clubs gone

Though a hurricane is never good news, few could argue that the areas damaged by Katrina could use a break.

The Gulf Coast’s boating industry has been particularly hard hit by Hurricane Katrina because so many marine businesses are located along the waterfront.

For example, of the nearly 30 Gulf Yachting Association Clubs, more than half of those were “wiped out by the storm,” according to a recent report from The Mississippi Press.

Though, as the article points out, there are more serious concerns to be addressed in the area, the 86-year-old Sir Thomas Lipton Challenge Cup, scheduled to take place at the Bay Waveland Yacht Club in Waveland, Miss., over Labor Day weekend, was not only canceled, its trophy was destroyed in the fire at the Southern Yacht Club in New Orleans. Area boaters called the event their “Super Bowl of sailing.”

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