We stayed for Ike. Here is our story...
8:30am: I dropped the kids at school and ran by the grocery store to pick up some bread and water, just in case. To my surprise, the grocery store was slammed. There were no empty grocery carts to be found. People were rushing through the isles grabbing anything non-perishable. Of course, the steak and beer isles were almost empty, too. I admit it, I got caught up in the frenzy. I bought a basket full of groceries and 6 bags of ice.
9:30am: Lines at the gas pumps are 3 and 4 cars deep. I already had a full tank.
1:30pm: The school called to ask parents to pick up their kids. They wanted to let the teachers go home and make preparations for the storm.
3:00pm: I asked the kids to go outside and draw a picture of Ike on the back fence with chalk. 8:30pm: Alex is so worried about the storm that he can't sleep. We had to talk about his girlfriend and girl coodies to get his mind off of Ike.
All day: Watched TV, took in all the outside furniture and toys, checked on a neighbors house, picked up construction debris from a house being built next door, washed dishes and clothes, staged our "emergency room", turned the air conditioner down to 68 degrees and waited.
5pm: Read my friend Kahna's blog and got the idea to pull out our kites. Why not take advantage of the wind?
5:30pm -10pm: Neighbors started emerging from their homes. We stood around in the streets for hours chatting and letting the kids run circles around us.
10pm: The playroom camp out begins.
1:30am - 8am: The storm hits, and we loose power. It was scary when the house started to vibrate and windows started to leak. Everyone slept through the worst of it, except me. (OK. Don did get up when I had a question or got a little too nervous.) I guess the Mother-hen instinct kicked in. I wandered the house all night, checking on things and listening to the radio. I kept looking out the window at a billboard outside our bedroom window. I would know the storm was really bad if it fell. It never did...that was reassuring.
10am: Our street was flooded, but it never made it into our house.
12pm: Started up the grill and emptied the fridge into 3 ice chests.
All day: Played games, read books, cleaned up and waited for the forcasted cool front to come through.
5pm: Did a little sight seeing, mostly to use the air-conditioner and TV in the car. We had no idea how bad the storm had really hit Houston until we got out of our little neighborhood. Not many people fared as well as we did. Trees and power-lines littered the streets. Houses were crushed. I-10 looked like a lake as far as the eye could see. Just crazy. We were really thankful. We didn't loose a single shingle.
Remember that billboard? Well, it was standing, but this is the one next to it that I couldn't see.
9pm: Camped out on the foyer floor with all the doors open while the 68 degree weather enveloped us!
8:30am: Woke up, well rested, but with little chigger bites all over the kids. They look like the have the chicken pocks.
10am: We decide to drive to BR so Don can get onto the Internet. He has some pressure from work to get things done. His boss is in Chicago and doesn't really get what went down.
11am: Packed up the family, knocked a few holes in the walls around the windows that leaked and headed out for Baton Rouge.
2pm: Saw a sign on the service road of I-10 flashing, "Caution. House on Road." Sure enough, there it was, a little yellow house, in perfect condition, minus a foundation, sitting up straight in the middle of the I-10 service road. Oh, how I wish we had stopped to take a picture!
3pm: I was in awe of the amount of tree services, energy services, Wal-Mart trucks, insurance and church disaster units, generator transports, wire, oil, gas, and energy post convoys that were on the way into Houston along I-10E! Sad to say, though, at the tail end off hundreds of first responders were 3 measly FEMA trucks. Pathetic...why bother?
Neighbors helping neighbors throughout this storm was just touching. People sharing generators, waiting patiently for gas and not filling up to make sure there was enough for those behind them, helping clean each others yards and bringing coffee to tired police men. Beautiful.
So, there you have it. 98% of Houston, 5 million people, out of electrical service. We will go back home when the answering machine picks up at our house, but I have a feeling we are going to have a good long visit here in Baton Rouge.