XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS star Lucy Lawless is still recovering from a nightmare escape from New Orleans, Lousiana, to avoid Hurricane Katrina.

The New Zealander fled the city, where she's shooting new movie VAMPIRE BATS when officials issued a mandatory evacuation alert over the weekend (27AUG05), as the category five storm threatened.

But Lawless wasn't the only person heeding the evacuation advice and leaving the city.

She says, "The traffic was going one-mile-per hour sometimes, then it was two-miles-per hour, then five. It took nine hours for what should have taken 50-55 minutes."

But the actress isn't complaining - she's concerned for those who couldn't get out of the city in time.

She adds, "I just realised all those people in incredibly low-lying areas are in such threat. I just worry about them.

"I love this town, I love the heat. I was afraid of coming, working in sweltering heat and swamps, but it's just been pure joy. I would move here if I could work here all of the time."

Oscar winner Hilary Swank was another star who managed to get out of the path of the hurricane just in time - work on her new unnamed thriller was halted over the weekend.

Meanwhile, Jamie Foxx and Colin Farrell were given a few days off last week (ends26AUG05) when shooting on their Miami Vice movie was stopped in Florida as the hurricane - then a category one storm - hit beach communities in Miami.