Gallery Furniture has opened its stores as shelters again for Texans

Now he’s doing it for those badly hit by a deadly winter storm that left more than 3 million Texans without electricity and running water at record-breaking freezing temperatures.

“The logistics are a little tricky, but we make it work,” said McIngvale. “The main thing is to get people out of the cold.”

The state’s power grid, isolated from the rest of the country, could not meet demand in cold weather as residents strive to stay warm, dry, and safe. Many in need of medical care that depends on electricity are in poor shape – and angry at how unprepared the state has been on ice and snow.

An unsympathetic mayor went to Facebook to demand that “lazy” people get their own electricity and water. Tim Boyd, the mayor of Colorado City, Texas, removed his post and resigned after writing that he was “sick and tired of people looking for a damn flyer!”

McIngvale has none of this at Gallery Furniture.

Anyone can use the beds and couches in their showrooms, watch a movie or basketball game on their big-screen TVs, and sit down to a hot meal, said McIngvale, 70.

“Obviously there is a lot of fear here in the church. You are shocked, ”he said. “You have been at home in the cold for days, without electricity, without heat, without water, without water pipes.”

Since Tuesday, around 350 people a night have drawn his attention to the offer in two of his three shops, while up to 800 people arrive every day in the cafeteria to warm up and have coffee, snacks or a meal.

While the business is powered by a generator running 15,000 gallons of diesel fuel, only one faucet works due to frozen pipes, McIngvale said.

He brought portable toilets and set up a special flushing system in the toilets with extra water.

McIngvale has also paid grocery vendors to bring tacos, enchiladas, hamburgers, hot dogs, and breakfast burritos.

“If a lot has been given, a lot is expected,” he said. “We have benefited from public support over the years, so it is our obligation to open our doors and let people in to take a break from the storm. It is the right thing. “

McIngvale said he knew he had to re-offer the beds and couches in his stores after seeing a sad scene driving to church on Valentine’s Day.

“I saw some police officers put a sheet of paper over a homeless man who was frozen to death,” he said. “That really got me. I then decided to open the stores to everyone when things got really bad, and it did. “

On social media, he drew attention to the fact that he was going to open his stores as thermal protection, and within hours, people were showing up to escape their cold homes.

“We have lots of beds, lots of couches and lots of daybeds,” said McIngvale. “Come in and make yourself at home.”

He and his staff made sure that everyone had masks and were safely away from each other. McIngvale then handed out blankets, sweatshirts, donuts, and sacks of fries and bottled water left over from Super Bowl Sunday.

Felicia Maten showed up with her daughter Ebony Augustine, 23, and mother Dora Maten Bell, 65, after the pipes burst in their apartment, about a 20-minute drive from the furniture store.

“It was 17 degrees inside. We could see our breath, “said Maten, 42.” I had lost the feeling in my toes and my mother’s nose was bleeding. When my neighbor told me about this place, we knew we had to get out of there. “

Maten said she almost burst into tears when McIngvale greeted her warmly and helped them find their way for the night.

“They fed us fried chicken, rice and beans, fruit and coffee,” she said. “It was like an answer to our prayers. It’s such a wonderful feeling here. It was like going to my grandparents house. “

Maurisio Garcia and his wife Yolanda Martinez brought their three children to Gallery Furniture after the power went out in their mobile home on Tuesday morning.

“We are so grateful that we heard about this place. Your generosity is amazing, “said Garcia, 36.” It was like an adventure for the kids staying here. The first night they fell asleep happy and warm on a diagonal sofa. “

Martinez said they will stay in the furniture showroom until power is restored, hopefully by the weekend.

“I don’t know what we’d do without Mack,” she said. “We have everything we need here. It’s wonderful to see people do what they can for everyone without asking questions. “

His stores have gained a loyal following as a result of this publicity work, but McIngvale said that is why he does, to see people warm and safe.

“It’s bitterly cold out there, but it’s warm inside,” he said. “When it comes down to it, the Texans will show up and get through the storm together.”

Houston reporter Ken Hoffman contributed to this story.

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