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While most people in Texas have their power back on now following a blistering winter storm that knocked out their power, millions remain without access to clean drinking water. Around 8.8 million — about a third of Texas’ population — still being affected by disrupted public water service as of Feb. 21. Many remain affected by house damage and food shortage issues as well.
Businesses and community leaders have been stepping up to help under these emergency conditions. They include Jim McIngvale, better known as “Mattress Mack,” seen in a black hoodie in the picture above. The furniture store owner threw open his doors to hundreds of freezing Texans who had nowhere else to turn.
“Least we could do is open this furniture store to let people come into a warmer place,” Mattress Macktold CBS Houston affiliate KHOU-TV about why he opened three of his Gallery Furniture store locations, in Richmond and Houston, to Texans in need.
For many families, Mattress Mack’s generosity was a life-saving measure.
Dozens of people have died as a result of last week’s winter storms and subsequent power outages, including a grandmother and her three grandchildren who died when their home caught fire as they tried to stay warm and an 11-year-old boy believed to have died of hypothermia. A Houston mom and daughter lost their lives to carbon monoxide poisoning after they ran their car in their garage for heat, and father and brother were left in critical condition.
Hundreds of other calls about carbon monoxide poisoning have been called into the fire stations, hospitals and other agencies in Texas. It is a “disaster within a disaster,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo told The Weather Channel.
This isn’t the first time that Mattress Mack has come to the rescue during times of crisis. Along with being an exceedingly generous philanthropist, he has opened up his stores during Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Harvey despite the costs to keep them up and running as shelters.
“We can afford that and what we can’t afford is to cause these people to lose hope, we got to give them hope,” Mattress Mack told CBS News. “This is what my parents would have done.”
To help support Texans who are struggling right now, you can donate to the Red Cross. Or donate to Lucille’s 1913 Community Kitchen which is preparing and delivering hot meals to people in the Houston area. Also, GoFundMe has created a centralized hub of verified fundraisers so people can donate to Texas in need or give to a generalized winter storm relief fund.