NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ Residents of Louisiana's already sodden coast started packing to evacuate again Wednesday as Hurricane Kate lurched across the Gulf of Mexico with 115 mph wind, threatening to be the state's fourth hurricane of the season.

In Grand Isle, a southern Lousiana fishing community of 2,200, Mayor Thomas Marullo ordered an evacuation.

''Last time, we got caught with our pants down,'' said Marullo, whose island was deluged in late October by Hurricane Juan, blamed for six Louisiana deaths on land and offshore. More than 200 people were rescued offshore.

Helicopters ferried many of the 20,000 offshore rig workers inland.

''This is a prudent and commendable action on their part.'' said Rep. Billy Tauzin, D-La. ''The loss of lives during Hurricane Juan occurred because of the suddenness with which the storm overtook the Louisiana coast. ... We must prepare now for an impact on the already battered coast.''

Never before have four hurricanes hit one state in the same year.

Juan was the third storm of the season to lash the state. Danny hit in August, followed by Elena during the Labor Day weekend.

''With the three or four hurricanes that have hit us, everybody is aware of the destructiveness of these storms and nobody is being apathetic again,'' Marullo said.

Even if Kate veered eastward to make landfall in the Florida Panhandle, its outlying wind could still hit Louisiana with rain and tides two to four feet above normal.

The National Weather Service posted a hurricane watch from Grand Isle to Cedar Key, Fla., including all the Alabama and Mississippi coastal counties.

''Many people still have not completed repairs from the earlier storms. It's getting old,'' said Linda Ralph, deputy director of Mississippi's Harrison County civil defense office.

Red Cross workers had hoped Wednesday to register the last families for relief from the October hurricane.

In some parts of Galliano, where a Lafourche Parish levee broke under the advancing tides of Juan, as much as two feet of water was still standing.

''This is the first year we have had it this bad in a long time,'' said Sarah Rigaud of Grand Isle, who lost the family pickup and had 11/2 -foot of water in her home after Juan.

''We were all getting prepared for Thanksgiving dinner and here we have to leave the island. Well, I'm not leaving,'' said Mrs. Rigaud.

''We get by. We have gas stoves to cook on and lanterns so it's not that bad. We went seven days without electricity'' during Juan, she said.

Chevron USA spokesman Keith Owen said at least 2,600 people were taken off its offshore oil rig and production facilities Tuesday and Wednesday.

During Juan, the Penrod 61 rig leased by Chevron collapsed and sank in 35- foot seas, 35 miles south of Leeville. Its 43 workers, plus 39 workers on a nearby Penrod 60 rig, jumped into emergency escape capsules and were rescued.

The season's damage toll is likely to be among the highest on record. Juan deluged some Gulf Coast areas with a foot or more of rain, with cost estimates of more than $1 billion in Louisiana alone.

Elena and Gloria also did massive damage. Insured losses in Elena have been estimated at $543 million - fourth costliest on record - and Gloria's insurance payouts could exceed $340 million.

Chevron evacuations in four hurricanes this season have cost the company $25 million, Owen said.

The American Red Cross spent about $7.9 million after Hurricane Elena in four gulf coastal states and an additional $8.9 million on Juan, said Susan Clowe, spokesman for the disaster operation headquarters in Baton Rouge.

''We spent more money since July first possibly than we would spend in a couple years (on disaster relief),'' said Clowe, from disaster operations headquarters in Baton Rouge.

''We're in a state of readiness because we really haven't geared down. We still have 287 national volunteers and paid staff members here working on Hurricane Juan,'' said Clowe.