No matter the weather, Texans take care of their own.

By Southern Living Editors
September 06, 2017
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Win McNamee/Getty Images

When Hurricane Harvey swept through Texas, one grocery store was ready for it. H-E-B managed to open 60 of its 83 stores in Houston just hours after Harvey slammed into Texas, opening 19 more stores soon after.

Scott McClelland is president of the chain's Houston division and he told LinkedIn about what it took behind-the-scenes to make sure that H-E-B's doors were open to help those in need of food and supplies. It's an inspiring story of the can-do attitude of the grocery employees who "knew they were the first line of defense for people to eat."

McClelland has worked for H-E-B for 27 years and knew what people wanted to have on hand if they were going to be battening down the hatches to ride out a storm. "We began shipping water and bread into the affected areas," he wrote. "Those are the two categories people buy first."

He also had his stores bring in extra supplies like milk, batteries, canned meat, and tuna. "When you go into a hurricane, nobody buys frozen food," he wrote. When the floodwaters receded, he knew people would want mops and bleach and cleaning supplies, so he stocked up on those, too.

Of course, McClelland wasn't the only H-E-B employee working long days and nights to help the city recover from Harvey's damaging water. In fact, it took the entire company. They set up a command center in San Antonio, organizing deliveries, arranging to have helicopters bring in truck drivers, and sending those truck drivers out into the city with fresh water for Houston residents.

Inside Houston, the stores operated with skeleton crews as they worked to keep the doors open and shelves stocked. "We brought over 2,000 partners from Austin, San Antonio, the Rio Grande Valley," writes McClelland. "They hopped into cars and they just drove to Houston. They said, we're here to help." McClelland put them to work cleaning, unloading boxes, unpacking goods, and getting the stores up and running even as the hurricane raged outside.

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H-E-B wasn't just selling food, though, they were also giving away a lot of it through mobile kitchens that they set up in the hurricane-battered region. "They can feed 2,000 people an hour," writes McClelland. "We feed first responders and evacuees — people who wouldn't have access to food." Because H-E-B is a local operation, their food trucks can start doling out warm meals before the Red Cross even arrives. It's the sort of warm-hearted Southern spirit that can help people find a silver lining, even in a difficult time.