Thoroughbred owner/breeder, Houston businessman, and philanthropist Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale again opened his main Gallery Furniture store to people in need, this time to city residents seeking refuge from cold, dark homes without safe water to drink.
In an interview Feb. 18 with Michael Strahan on ABC’s Good Morning America, McIngvale said he had almost 1,000 people show up at his Houston, Texas, store and about 300 of them stayed overnight each day Feb. 16-17. Multiple days of freezing temperatures left nearly three million Texans without power Wednesday, with more than a million of them in Houston, according to multiple reports. The state also warned residents that water pressure is so low it might be unsafe to drink. Boil water notices were issued throughout the city.
“They are not as traumatized as they were during (Hurricane) Harvey when they had to wade through four feet of dirty water to get here, but they are just as emotionally distraught because of the disruption of routine, of lights and water, and of being warm. They don’t know when they will be back in their homes,” McIngvale said.
MORNING EXCLUSIVE: @michaelstrahan speaks with local Houston legend Jim McIngvale aka ‘Mattress Mack’ as he opens his doors to help millions of Texans after winter storm. https://t.co/E1sP0GNcjP pic.twitter.com/imdRNLwoKx
— Good Morning America (@GMA) February 18, 2021
During the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in August 2017, McIngvale housed and fed 450 people each at his main store and at a store in Richmond.
McIngvale said he had hoped to open his store Feb. 15 but Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner discouraged him because the roads were unsafe. The businessman got the go-ahead Tuesday.
To help protect people dealing with the treacherous weather and the pandemic, McIngvale said everyone entering the store is required to sanitize their hands and wear face masks.
“This is a cavernous store with over 100,000 square feet so even with 300-400 people we can keep a safe distance between families,” he said. “There is a lot of camaraderie here with about 100 children and 200 adults.”
As of Thursday afternoon, power had been restored to all but about 32,000 Houston residents. Boil water advisories remained in place for 19 areas around Harris, Fort Bend, Galveston, and Montgomery counties.
McIngvale has campaigned 15 black-type stakes winners as an owner since 1997, including 2015 TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) winner and champion sprinter Runhappy , who stands at Claiborne Farm.