We made it through Ike just fine. We didn't have any damage to our house, and no major branches or trees were lost. We got a lot of water in our backyard, and had a mess of branches and leaves to clean up, but that was about it. We lost power around 5:45 Saturday morning, and Entergy is saying it could be weeks before it is restored, which is so surreal to me.
We spent Friday night on an air mattress in our office. It was added on from part of the garage, so there are no windows in there. Zachary slept under the computer desk and had a ball. Zoe decided that she didn't want to sleep, and crawled all over Darren and me all night. We were all awake by 8:00, and not very happy about it, considering that we had stayed up watching the news until after 1:00 the night before. Saturday, it rained all day, so we didn't do much. We lounged around and watched the backyard fill up with water. Late that afternoon, we couldn't stand being in the house anymore, so we went and drove around a little bit to see some of the damage in our area. Some of the roads were blocked with trees, and we saw houses with trees on them, but didn't see houses or cars smashed in. We heard on the radio that a catfish restaurant in Conroe had opened, so we picked up my friend Jennifer and headed over there. There was a line out the door, and the restaurant was running on generator power, but we didn't have anything better to do than wait! You stood in line to order, then could get a table while waiting on your food. They had a limited menu, and only tea or water to drink, but it was hot food. We waited an hour after we ordered for our food, but it was delicious.
Saturday night was kind of hot to sleep, but we managed to sleep for eleven hours. There was another storm during the night, and it was still raining when we woke up. Sunday, we took our time getting dressed, and finally finished folding the laundry that I washed on Friday. We managed to clean up our front yard while Zoe took a four-hour nap, but the backyard was still flooded. We drove around some that afternoon, trying to find ice and gas for the car. Some of the grocery stores were open limited hours, and would only let a few people at a time in. We drove by one and saw the line, and realized they didn't have bread, produce, dairy products, or meat. They also weren't selling any alcohol. We managed to break into our neighbor's house and get Darren's car out of their garage, since it had a full tank of gas, and is much more fuel-efficient than my car. I didn't realize how skilled Darren is with a butter knife! We decided that it was time to clean the fridge and freezer that evening, because the popsicles were starting to melt. Our neighbors shared some ice with us, so we were able to save milk, the kids' medicine, and a few other things. We grilled the meat that we had in our freezer, and set up a table on the driveway. It was nice to sit outside and chat with our neighbors, something that we don't do too often.
I decided Sunday that I wanted to try to come to my parents' house, since we were all hot, tired, and bored. We drove out to the interstate to get cell phone service, and coordinated meeting my parents in Beaumont on Monday with a generator, fuel, and ice. Darren didn't want to leave, because he wanted to clean up the backyard, possibly try to check on his dad's house in Galveston, and find out about his office. My only concern about leaving was not knowing when school would start again, for both Zach and me. The school district predicted a Wednesday start date, but I knew that was unrealistic without power. I don't want to miss any of my classes, but my college's website is still down, and an email that I sent to my professor was returned to me.
Monday morning, we loaded up Darren's car with clothes for a week, the cat, dirty laundry, and my schoolbooks. It took over three hours to make what is normally a two-hour drive. We stayed off the interstates, and the highway that we took had many, many stoplights. People had a hard time with the concept of a four-way stop, which is the norm. What amazed me on our drive were the lines of cars snaking from the gas stations, and these gas stations weren't even open. I can't imagine going and sitting in a line if I wasn't positive I was going to be able to get gas at that station! Darren was able to check email, and found out that his office had water in it. The good news is that everyone's work computers are laptops, so they weren't in the office at the time.
We met Mom and Dad at a park in Beaumont, since they hadn't seen any open restaurants or gas stations since they had passed the state line. We were all disappointed, because we were counting on getting a hot meal, and Darren being able to fill up his car before heading back to Houston. It was hard to say goodbye to Darren, because I didn't know when I would get to talk to him again. He promised to drive out to I-45 each day to call me, and to come when he had finished with cleaning the yard.
We stopped and ate at Chili's in Lake Charles. They had a limited menu, but I just appreciated being somewhere with electricity and hot food! Radio and text messaging had been our only source of communication with the outside world since Friday night, so it was really nice to see a TV. By the time we arrived at Mom and Dad's house, we had been on the road for seven hours. I called and texted as many family members as I could, to let them know we were all right. We sat out on Mom and Dad's patio and had cocktails, and I felt guilty doing that while Darren was at home without power. We also went and stocked up on groceries before collapsing into bed. I thanked Mom and Dad many times for coming to my rescue!
We decided today to have Zoe's birthday party here on Saturday, since so many of Darren's family members are around. Zachary went with his Poppa to his office, and sold $100 worth of Cub Scout popcorn to the people there. Mom and I took the kids to do some shopping this afternoon, just to get out of the house. We ordered a cake for Zoe, and Zach's cousin Maggie came over the evening. I took the kids to get McDonald's and to play at a local park. The weather is so cool, I am sure that people at home without power are enjoying it. Friends who live on several streets near our house now have power, so hopefully it will come on at our house tonight or tomorrow. Darren spent the day cleaning the house, but I don't know if he had a chance to tackle the yard. My friend Jennifer flew home to Iowa, and I am so glad that she did! She couldn't find gas for her car, and only had a few more miles to empty on her tank.
My mom has started washing all of the dirty clothes that I brought with me, and I plan to spend some time with family and friends this week. It's nice to have a mini-vacation, since I didn't really get one this summer, even though the circumstances aren't the best. I am sure we will have to make up the time missed at some point, and since I am not on salary this year, I won't get paid for this week. I guess it's good that I don't have to pay Zoe's sitter... Darren's company found temporary office space, but I don't know when they plan to start up again. I'd like to get some schoolwork done this week. I was supposed to have a test this weekend, which obviously isn't going to happen now. I can't do any work for my online classes, since the website is down. I also am going to lose another week of working out for my kinesiology class. I just wonder how long it is going to take for life to return to normal, and how big of a financial impact this is going to have?