So, Wednesday, we in the greater Houston area took note that Ike had shifted course from earlier in the week and was now becoming a bit of a threat to our area. We were still on the far side of the 'cone of uncertainty' but we were all wary and watching the weather. Brazos County was taking no chances, now that they appeared to be a prime target and mandatory evacuations were ordered. Each new model run, about every 4 hours for those of you unfortunates in land-locked states who will never deal with the nail biting uncertainty of 'Will it? Won't it?', shifted closer towards us. The first wave of alarm came through when the GFDS model became an outlier predicting a landfall near Galveston/Houston with G/H getting the dirty side of the storm.
Meanwhile people were beginning to realize that though Ike was a cat 1/cat 2, the actual kinetic energy of the storm was much more intense, capable of producing a much stronger storm surge than normally seen with a storm with lower windforce. In fact, at points on Thursday, the kinetic energy at the center of the storm was higher than that of Hurricanes Katrina and William, both of which were highly destructive. Galveston called for voluntary evacuations and people began to get nervous.
Dh and I had discussed the possibility of getting additional supplies and trying to get a camping stove or small grill Wednesday night, but because I worked late decided we would wait. We did fill up our car to be safe.
Thursday morning brought news that the models had shifted closer and we became increasingly nervous. I watched the models shifting and began to get a bad feeling, but Dh and I had discussed it and knew that we were not going to get caught in a Rita evac again. We had a good basis for supplies and agreed that we'd hit the store as soon as work closed. We listened to the Harris County/City of Houston press conferences, learned that there were now mandatory Harris Co. evacs of low-lying areas and made a bet on when we would close. Based on past history, we expected to close at noon, so that employees could get out or get supplies, especially since schools were beginning to close. I lost the bet, and $10, when our esteemed new president kept us until 5. We were furious - there is a hurricane headed towards us and we are expected to stay?! The head of my division called and said absolutely not - he wanted the office cleared by 3:30, and damn the president. My direct supervisor was already gone, having been in a mandatory evacuation zone. I was one of the last to leave, working hard to get just a couple more things in, and of course, my dh couldn't leave until he had coverage for his office, but most of his employees had checked out.
I was nervous now. We needed more supplies if we were truly going to be without power for a few days, and we weren't leaving until 4:00. People had been out all day, and while we'd heard many stores had been restocked and brought in more essentials, who knew? While we hurried to our favorite HEB, dh and I discussed what we most needed. I put my foot down to alcohol - we could go across the street to a liquor store for that - and too much fresh produce or refridgerated goods. We fortunately already had tuna, granola bars, crackers, and things like that that were already depleted. We'd not counted on the bread aisle being empty.
We went ahead and got fish for dinner Thursday and picked up some rice and pasta, and I grabbed a bag of frozen, cooked cocktail shrimp and a container of cocktail sauce. Previous experience has shown that they can help the freezer colder longer and can be eaten (and enjoyed) cold when they defrost naturally. We also got little smokies and fully cooked frozen sausages. Snagged sodas and fruit and vegetables juices to make the water last as long as possible and got goods for chicken salad and soup (though we were able to make neither before we lost power). I snagged some wraps and one sad lonely loaf of artisan bread for the inevitable sandwiches.
I was able to grab the last small baby grill and we rejoiced that we'd have the ability to heat food and boil water. We added charcoal and paper towels to our cart and were off. Once we got home, we realized that we did not have lighter fluid for the charcoal, so we made a run to Target. On the way, we stopped at La Madeline's and snagged freshly baked bread and croissants for the next couple of days. At Target, we got lighter fluid and more candles and Nutella (mmmm) and realized we needed more D batteries. The city appeared to be out of them, but we were able to top off our gas after all.
We went home tired and ready to move forward with our hurricane preparations, especially since all models were converged on Galveston/Houston. The bright lining was we were no longer on the dirty side of the storm, we were on the eye path. I wouldn't know until later what that meant. We went to bed feeling somewhat optimistic.