Well, our best laid plans have gone astray. Like thousands of other Houstonians, we discovered after 6 hours of futility that we weren't going to be able to get out of the city. Fortunately we were able to get turned around and get home while still having almost 3/4 tank of gas, which gives us options later. For now, though, we're staying and watching closely to see if the roads clear out enough to squeak out before Rita gets here. If not, we're in a new home that's supposedly built to withstand 110mph winds, which is comforting.
Things in our favor:
--Time (at least 24 hours before storm hits, so we can prepare)
--Still have electricity, basic supplies, and 3/4 tank of gas
--In-laws live three houses down, so we can consolidate efforts
--Many neighbors are staying (after trying to evacuate, then turning around), and we're all trying to watch out for each other
--Our house is built up very high, and we have fields around us to soak up rain
Things out of our control:
--We threw away all our cold foods and drinks before we left, and many had spoiled before we returned. We still have pantry items, and are storing water. It won't be gourmet, but the whole family can eat for several days.
--All grocery stores, general stores and gas stations are closed. What we have is all we have; there is no such thing as "stocking up" in Houston right now.
--Hurricane intensity and location. The latest news shows Rita being a little weaker and moving east of Houston. That would put us on the west or "clean" side of the storm, with lighter winds and less danger.
All in all, we're feeling at peace about our decision to stay. Every step of the way, we've done the best we can with the information available at the time.
I may post another time or two tonight or tomorrow, as the electricity should stay on for another 24 hours or more. After that we'll probably be offline, and I'll only be having phone conversations with family on the landline.