Businessman turns furniture stores into Storm Harvey shelters

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A Houston businessman has opened up his furniture stores to shelter hundreds of Texans displaced by Storm Harvey.

Jim McIngvale, known as “Mattress Mack”, invited storm victims to take refuge at either of his two Gallery Furniture stores. A post made on the store’s Facebook page on Sunday offered food, beds and restrooms for all in need. 

Volunteers used rented furniture trucks to pick up displaced people and bring them to safety.

By Monday night Mr McIngvale’s stores had reached their 400 person capacity. In a second Facebook post, Gallery Furniture encouraged Texans to seek shelter at a local convention centre.

“When the hurricane first hit down here, my first thought was this is going to be a one-day event. Then I came into work the next day and I saw the devastation of the entire area and decided it would be best if we opened this 100,000-square-foot furniture store as a shelter,” Mr McIngvale told NPR.

He has been providing three meals a day for the evacuees. 

Photos posted on Mr McIngvale’s Twitter account show people sitting on the new furniture.

“I was raised as a Catholic. I continued my Catholic faith throughout my life, trying to do the right thing and hopefully, you do the right thing and help people along the way,” Mr McIngvale told San Antonio TV station KENS 5. 

During Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he also opened his doors to 200 evacuees from New Orleans, KENS 5 reported.

An emergency centre set up at downtown Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center, which was given a capacity of 5,000 evacuees, had taken in 9,000 people by Monday night, KTRK reported.

The Red Cross, which is running the facility, said that despite that number they are still accepting newcomers. 

Latest figures suggest 18 people have died as flooding continues to wreak havoc in Houston. 

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