Memphis barbecue served up for flood victims in Houston

HOUSTON — Wednesday night there's a pop-up city in the shadow of the Houston skyline. This city has a rich, smoky smell, as this barbecue sauce indicates — we know well in the Mid-South.

"Food is a universal language, everybody is happy when they're eating food."

Barbecue brought these volunteers together; William Tischinia, a Houston native and barbecue competitor, connected with Operation BBQ Relief members at Memphis in May. He was affected by Harvey`s torrential rains.

"My house got a little water in it. My parents' house got some water in it, they lost their vehicles," Tischinia said.

But he wanted to be here to help prep and feed the thousands who have come for a hot meal after they too felt Harvey's havoc.

"We did 12,000 meals today," said Stan Hays, one of the Founders of Operation Barbeque Relief.

After seeing devastation from the tornado in Joplin, Missouri, in 2011, Hays started serving up the 'que.

"I do it personally for the smile, the hug and the thank you."

He says so far they've served more meals than they usually do on their first full day of full operation.

To give you an idea of just how many meals Operation BBQ Relief has served, Hays says just earlier Wednesday the amount of bread was stacked about 3 feet up, and the large amount already used up now can be a concern going into a holiday weekend.

One thing they're not short on is helping hands from the greater Memphis area.

"You know it's just a golden rule to us, and hopefully if anything ever happens to us bad they'll come our way," said John Wheeler, owner of Memphis Barbecue Company.

This time Tischinia didn't have to go far.

"I'm just paying back to my city."