HOUSTON, Texas – These photos capture the moments of calm in between the all-consuming.
They show a few guardsmen taking a much-deserved break after spending hours rescuing people trapped in the flooding from Hurricane Harvey. Their place of rest: a furniture store in Richmond, a suburb in the Houston metro area.
Ben Guenther, 37, is seen working on his laptop on a brand new showroom mattress at Gallery Furniture, while his fellow Guardsman lays on the mattress next to him.
In another photo, 23-year-old Aziz Shroff checks his phone while resting on a mattress for sale.
“We have about 60 National Guard troops that are sleeping on the best Tempur-Pedic mattresses that are on the market,” Dan Marchione, an employee at the store, joked. “I’ll tell you what, those are some happy soldiers.”
The troops are among the roughly 12,000 Guardsmen that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott activated to help with the Harvey rescue and recovery effort.
“They are out here working the deepwater rescues and bringing people out of these homes, and they needed a place to stay,” said Marchione. “We thought, ‘Well, let’s just open up our mattress department for them.'”
Over the past few days, Gallery Furniture has opened its doors to hundreds of evacuees. The store has served as a makeshift shelter for those displaced by the devastating storm, giving residents a place to sleep and three hot meals a day.
Machione said the store’s warm gesture is just a way for the business to give back to a community that has supported it for 36 years.
“This is Houston,” he said. “That’s how Houston rolls.”