Miraj S. Patel is president and CEO of Mirage Hospitality, a privately-owned company providing management and development services in Houston, Texas. When Hurricane Harvey was headed towards his city, he never thought it would be as bad as it was. Apparently a lot of other folks felt the same. “People went out to watch the boxing match that night,” he says.
Fortunately for many Houston residents, Patel’s mother took the warnings seriously. “She bought a lot of food, milk, and supplies,” he says, “and she told the GMs at the other properties to do the same.” In the first three days following the initial impact, Patel says nearby businesses were closed. Thanks to his mother’s foresight, they were able to feed all of their guests.
Miraj Patel is the president and CEO of Mirage Hospitality
“We spent the first two days looking out for people,” he says. “Everyone got stuck. People were leaving their cars a mile or two away and walking here to see if we had rooms. Fathers came in half-dressed, with no shoes, then went back for their families. They didn’t even have the capability to speak―they were in shock and freezing cold.”
To help as much as possible, guests were given a lower weekday rate, and no hotel taxes are being charged per the governor’s order. Mirage Hospitality opened up the laundry rooms and handed out extra towels. Patel and his family gave away their own clothing to guests. They also provided complimentary rooms for all staff whose homes were deemed unsafe.
Mirage Hospitality suffered as well. One property was flooded, and the construction site of a new boutique hotel was damaged. “You’re all focused on helping people,” Patel says, “but you get distracted talking with the insurance company and wondering how you're going to recover.”
His own home was not damaged. “We were blessed,” Patel says, “and we were lucky, because now we can help people.”
14 trillion gallons of water can make for a hopeless situation, but Patel says the donations that are coming in from multiple sources bring a real promise of recovery. He and a friend have also started a fundraising page. To date they have raised $19,000 with a goal of $25,000. They plan to use the funds to purchase sheets, blankets, pillows, soap, and shampoo.
Patel was enlightened when he arrived at the convention center with bags of clothing, medicine, shampoo, and soap to donate. He learned that the most commonly donated items of clothing, food, and beverages are “almost oversupplied.” The volunteer told him that what was needed most is bedding, diapers, and toiletries.
As a member of the hospitality industry, Patel is teaming up with his vendors to purchase what is most needed. “We just want everyone to lend a hand and support the community,” he says. “It’s going to be a long recovery. Nobody expected this much damage. Everyone in the industry is combining resources to help community. We should continue to stay united and not forget what’s happened in the city of Houston.”
To donate, please visit: www.gofundme.com
Photo credit: U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Zachary West [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
By Ashley Atkins