Interviews

Houston mattress store opens doors to hurricane evacuees

Owner takes in evacuees as local shelters hit capacity

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," August 30, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, "YOUR WORLD" HOST: You ever wonder where all of these people being evacuated are going, thousands of them?

The Red Cross reports now better than 17,000 in Red Cross shelters across the region. We have the Houston Convention Center holding more than 9,000 as we speak. But the venues are limiting, so churches pitch in, other pitch in where and when they can.

But with thousands more coming, what do they do?

Well, a Houston furniture store owner opened two of his showrooms to provide shelter to some of those tens of thousands who are without home due to Harvey.

That man joins us now. He's Jim McIngvale. He's the owner of the Gallery Furniture stores. He joins us on Skype.

Sir, very good to have you.

JIM MCINGVALE, OWNER, GALLERY FURNITURE: Hi, Neil. How are you?

CAVUTO: I'm fine.

What a remarkable guy you are to do that. What made you do it? Were you hearing that options were few for a lot of people fleeing their homes or what?

MCINGVALE: Well, during Hurricane Katrina, a lot of people from New Orleans evacuated to Houston.

And we slept 200 people here two nights during Hurricane Katrina. And, Sunday, I couldn't get out of my house for three or four hours because of the two feet of water in the street. When it finally went down, I went to the store and we started getting calls and e-mails and texts from people who were trapped in their homes.

We have 24-foot-box trucks that can go through three or four feet of water. So we dispatched about 10 delivery trucks to go pick up people. We picked them up, brought them to the store, and made this store and the store in West Houston both shelters and ended up having about 400 people for three nights at each store.

CAVUTO: Incredible.

What made you do it, Jim? You didn't have to do it. No one ordered you to do it.

MCINGVALE: I did it because it was the right thing to do.

We all have a responsibility for the well-being of our community. That's kind of our company culture out here. And we decided that people are more important than profits. And these people were hurting.

You know, the city and state and the county can only do so much. We went and rescued people out of homes where they had four or five feet of water.
We rescued them from on top of bridges. We rescued them from convenience stores. And we brought them out here, because these are our people. We have got to take care of them.

CAVUTO: Good for you.

Jim, how did you set things up so fast between beds and getting meals? And obviously you had a lot of friends and you worked together with a lot of people to get this together. But you did it really quickly.

MCINGVALE: This is our great staff here.

The unsinkable Gallery Furniture employees are one of the heroes of this whole story. The other heroes are the flood victims who had such great courage.

But both stores have big restaurants in them. Obviously, we have lots of mattresses on hand, lots of sofas and lots of recliners they could sleep or watch TV in.

So, once we got the people here, it was pretty easy. Sunday was the difficult day with food, because every restaurant and grocery store in Houston was closed. But get back open on Monday with our distributors, got the food.

And the people were great. They're all volunteering to help clean up the store and keep things nice and neat and work in the restaurant. So it was a very uplifting experience for all of us. It showed true solidarity. There were no Republicans. There were no Democrats. Just Texans trying to help other Texans, and we think that is what it's all about.

CAVUTO: They could be there awhile. Right?

MCINGVALE: A lot of them have already gone home, because you know how these people want to get back to their homes and redo their homes, their apartments.

CAVUTO: OK. Sure.

MCINGVALE: And a lot are still here, but a lot have gone back home already.

CAVUTO: All right, Jim, remarkable testament of the human spirit and your generosity.

Thank you very much. It's very uplifting for a lot of folks.

MCINGVALE: Thanks. Thank you, Neil.

CAVUTO: All right, be well, my friend.

There is hope, right, in the middle of these political clashes, Republican, Democrat, conservative and all. There is none of that. There's just helping your fellow man. There's a concept.

END

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