On Sunday, Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale, the owner of Gallery Furniture, opened the doors of his Houston-area furniture emporia to people flooded out of their homes by Tropical Storm Harvey. Since then, he and his employees, plus volunteers, have rescued, housed, and fed about 400 people, and also provided a place to unwind for a National Guard unit. His 24-foot furniture trucks "picked up about 200 people," McIngvale told ABC News on Wednesday. "They were stranded on bridges, they were stranded in convenience stores, they were walking through the water with snakes and alligators, and we brought 'em out here."
When the flood evacuees arrived, McIngvale said, he told them to make themselves at home, on the twin theories that "furniture's made to be sat on, slept on, laid on, whatever," and "to hell with profits, let's take care of people." He still plans to sell the furniture when his store is just a store again. "We'll have a Harvey floor model sale, or something — I'll come up with some shtick," he told ABC News. "This is the right thing to do. That's the way I was brought up."
McIngvale told CBS News about the moment he began opening his stores on Sunday, and why he doesn't want the "hero" title being foisted on him, even though he also housed refugees from Hurricane Katrina.
And on Tuesday night, he gave out his personal cellphone number on CNN. McIngvale said he's just practicing the values he learned from his parents, and hopes to pass on to his children. And when CNN asked if he had a message for Houston, he cited a motto used by his disabled daughter: "What has not destroyed us only serves to make us stronger. If not for my struggles, I would not have known my strength." Peter Weber