One morning in 2017, Mattress Mack, known formally as Jim McIngvale, woke up to find his own home under two to three feet of water after the storm. As he made his way to one of his Gallery Furniture locations, he saw the devastation Hurricane Harvey had inflicted on his home city of Houston.
He knew immediately what he wanted to do. As Time reported, McIngvale decided to turn some of his stores into shelters for those who had been displaced by the storm. He even put his company’s moving trucks to work, rescuing people who were trapped in their homes or stranded on highways.
In the end, McIngvale and his team saved around 200 people. Another few hundred found their way to the stores on their own. In total, around 400 people came to take shelter in these newfound havens.
The stores were well-suited to become safe and comfortable respites. They stayed dry during the flooding due to their flood-proof raised design, had plenty of cozy furniture for people to sleep on, and featured both bathrooms and showers.
But McIngvale knew the space was about much more than physical comfort.
“Being together in a space is helpful for all of us,” McIngvale stated in an interview with Time magazine. “People don’t feel like they’re on their own.”
Still, this wasn’t McIngvale’s first time showing up for others when they needed it. In 2005, he opened up two of his stores as shelters for those fleeing from New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.
Both times, McIngvale was amazed to see how people came together to help run these furniture stores as if they were actual shelters. From making food to donating baby formula, people stepped up in a big way, and it did not go unnoticed.
“It reaffirms your faith in mankind when you see people coming in and giving up what they don’t need,” McIngvale told Time. “There’s an incredible outpouring of support. It’s just tremendous.”
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