HOUSTON, Texas — A generous furniture store owner in Houston turned two of his locations into shelters for those in need of a warm place to stay amid the Texas power outages this week.
For days, millions of Texans were without power as winter storms brought snow and record-low temperatures to much of the state. Power has been restored in most communities, but as of Friday morning, more than 190,000 outages were still reported, according to poweroutage.us.
Now, the main concern is millions of people experiencing disrupted water services.
Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale opened up his Gallery Furniture stores to anyone who needed a place to regroup. The expansive buildings are filled with sofas, mattresses and recliners for people to rest on. The facilities also have restaurants where people could get a warm meal.
“We’re here for the community. We believe that we all have a responsibility to the wellbeing of the community and when times get tough, we try to open our doors and let Houstonians come in and regroup, so they can go out there and hopefully go back to their homes with bright lights on,” said McIngvale in an interview with CNN.
This isn’t the first time McIngvale has offered his stores up to those in need. He also allowed people to stay when Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Harvey and Tropical Storm Imelda hit the area, The Washington Post reports.
McIngvale says his parents taught him that “the essence of living is giving” and that’s how he and his family have chosen to live their lives.
“The Catholic church that I went to taught me that, ‘to much is given, much is expected.’ And let’s face it, the customers of Texas have been great to us over the past 40 years. We started with $5,000 and now we’re a fairly substantial business,” said McIngvale. “Our team members love giving back.”
Hundreds of people have taken McIngvale up on his offer. Since Tuesday, The Post says about 350 people have stayed at the stores each night and up to 800 have visited each day to warm up and grab a bite eat.
McIngvale told CNN that he believes some of the people who’ve come to his stores are traumatized, with the two most affected groups being parents with small children and the elderly.
“They’re happy to be here. They’re thrilled to get inside, some place that it’s warm, they can get something hot to eat,” he said. “They can sit down for a while and relax, kind of regroup. Obviously, they’re not as traumatized as they were during Hurricane Harvey, when they had to wade through four feet of dirty water, but they are extremely traumatized.”