HOUSTON, Texas — A petition has been started to honor the Houston-area furniture-store owner who opened up his business to help victims of Harvey.
Owner Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale is known throughout the Houston area not only for his zany commercials but his generosity. He opened up two of his showrooms to shelter some of the tens of thousands of people whose homes are under water.
Someone started a change.org petition to have McIngvale honored with his own day. It says:
It’s time, Houston it’s time, that Mattress Mack deserves his own Houston’s day/ key to the city. During Hurricane Harvey he turned the key to his locations and opened them up as Shelters. This man is a Houston icon that deserves to be remembered forever. Signing this petition will help us get what he deserves August 26 is to be declared as Mattress Mack Day in Houston.
As of Friday, more than 175,000 have signed the petition.
Three-hundred evacuees are taking refuge in the 160,000-square-foot showroom of the Gallery Furniture store.
McIngvale told CNN that he and his team took delivery trucks “that can get through the high water really easily” out to make rescues.
“All day on Sunday we went around rescuing people out of high water stranded on overpasses. We brought about 200 people into the store that way,” McIngvale says.
The Gallery Furniture store’s Grand Parkway location is listed as an official shelter location.
David and Maria Parks came to the store early Tuesday morning after a boat driven by good Samaritans picked them up from their home. Friends posted messages to rescue them on social media. Hours later, they arrived in the store’s showroom.
The water was coming to the door when the Parks left their home. Throughout the day and into Wednesday they watch a livestream of local news on their cell phone, hoping for an aerial shot of their neighborhood to see if their home flooded after all.
“We didn’t want to spend the night there, wondering what was gonna happen,” David Parks says.
The Parks and other evacuees have their pick of hundreds of brand new sofas to lounge on, and for as long as they want.
Christa Girtmann, 29, and Jacob Smith, 25, left their home in Rosenberg, Texas, as it flooded on Monday evening. By Tuesday afternoon they were curled up under the covers in a king-sized bed in the showroom.
Not far away, Gladys Dasi, 39, watches her 2-month-old son on a sofa set next to her. Her daughter, Elsie, 8, plays on a mattress with other children.
Sleeping soundly in the mattress room next to the evacuees are about 60 National Guard troops. They rest in between shifts of rescuing Houstonians from dangerous floodwaters.
“(The troops) are sleeping on the best Tempur-Pedic mattresses that are on the market,” store employee Dave Marchione says. “And I’ll tell you what — those are some happy soldiers.”
Magdalena Marez, 27, and her fiancé Zachary Gasser, moved into their apartment a few months ago. They went furniture shopping at a handful of Houston-area stores, but they’d never stepped foot into a Gallery Furniture store until early Tuesday morning. They wandered in, soaking wet, just after evacuating from their apartment. Floodwaters were ankle deep, and they struggled to make the drive.
When they arrived at the showroom, volunteers handed them dry clothes, toothbrushes, soap, shoes — and a mattress still covered in plastic. Marez is moved by McIngvale’s generosity.
“We never stepped foot in (one of his stores) and now I’m just like, wow, I mean, they opened up the doors. Like nothing. He didn’t even second guess it,” she says. “He was just like, ‘Let me help you.'”
McIngvale is also paying for portable showers so evacuees can have their first hot shower in days.
Marchione, an employee, says his boss has opened the store to evacuees and is providing meals because it’s his way of giving back to a community that has brought him success over the past 36 years.
“This is Houston,” Marchione adds. “That’s how Houston rolls.”