More than 1 million people evacuated the Texas coast as Ike steamed across the Gulf of Mexico. Gov. Rick Perry said 20,500 people were still staying in 190 shelters Friday. About 135,500 families had qualified for government-funded hotels, though less than 9,000 were checked in, said Richard Scorza, a spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The federal relief effort has delivered hundreds of trucks of ice, water and food to more than 5 million people in the region.
Among those accepting a hand was Cheryl Harwell, who holed up in an empty hotel as Ike devastated the Bolivar Peninsula community of Crystal Beach. She ignored a mandatory evacuation order last week and suggested she wouldn't be leaving anytime soon.
"I got everything I need here," said Harwell, 50, as she sat on the hotel's second-floor balcony with her husband and a friend.
Destruction surrounded them, but their second-floor abode was dry and tidy, complete with clean linen, bottled water and beer.
"We're happy here," said Harwell's husband, Armando Briones. "We've got plenty of cigarettes and plenty of food."
If they need something, they simply flag down the National Guard, which has been making daily checks.
Bless them for having their priorities in order at such a time. Some people might not have the presence of mind to stock up on such essentials as beer and cigarettes in such trying times.