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Houston strong: Community heroes emerge in Harvey’s wake to aid fellow citizens in need


As Harvey’s unprecedented flooding disaster overwhelmed Houston and other cities in southern Texas, many charitable and resilient residents stepped up to help their fellow citizens in need.

Whether it be daring flood rescues or simply opening their doors to shelter-stranded residents, there have been great displays of compassion in areas ravaged by Harvey.

Houston-area furniture store owner Jim Mcingvale, known locally as "Mattress Mack," transformed two of his Gallery Furniture shops into shelters as the flooding situation worsened, promising plenty of food and water along with space for family pets.

Photographs on Mcingvale’s Facebook page showed National Guard members and evacuees and sleeping on mattresses throughout the store.


“Gallery Furniture was honored to feed and provide mattresses to sleep on for our Texas National Guard troops at Gallery Furniture Grand Parkway along with the Great Texans already staying with us for shelter,” he wrote on his Facebook page.

By Monday afternoon, both of his stores were at capacity.

“We encourage all Houstonians in need of shelter to go the George R. Brown Convention Center,” Mcingvale said, prior to the convention center becoming full as well. “God Bless you, God Bless your family, and God Bless Texas,” he wrote.

“We will help each other now get through this crisis of flooding and hurricane,” Mcingvale said.

Local and federal officials have called upon members of the public to aid with evacuations if they have a boat available.

Many people answered the call, including Brandon McElveen, a school counselor who used his truck and borrowed a Kayak to help more than 20 people, according to NPR.

"It's just really surreal," he told NPR. "You don't want to sit in your house and watch TV while so many people around you have things that they need."

The Red Cross continues to stage a massive emergency sheltering operation with as many as 32,000 evacuees currently in 230 Red Cross and partner shelters.

"More than 1,500 disaster workers are on the ground, and hundreds more are on the way," the Red Cross said.

As the days have gone on since Harvey’s initial impact, many additional volunteers have made their way to South Texas from other states across the country.

harvey volunteer rescue

Volunteer rescue boats make their way into a flooded subdivision to rescue stranded residents as floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey rise Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, in Spring, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)


New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is all too familiar with disaster recovery, with the five-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy approaching. On Tuesday, Christie approved New Jersey National Guard resources to be deployed to Texas.

Christie also said he was urging congressional members to provide aid for Harvey quickly.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb authorized the deployment of state resources for Harvey relief efforts on Thursday.

“When another state is devastated by a natural disaster, Indiana is committed to providing resources to help response and recovery efforts,” Holcomb said. “We are ready when called to serve and respond. I pray for the safety of all the citizens, first responders and volunteers in the days and weeks to come.”

In Philadelphia a 5-year-old-boy named Jett, who is a former Houston resident, sent up a lemonade stand to raise money for his hometown.

"Jett was a little concerned the past few days," his mom, Margaret Brown told WPVI in Philadelphia. "His grandparents — we've been able to talk to them, luckily. We were just trying to think of things we could do to help and we feel so far away."



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