Amid criticism, Joel Osteen's church says it was 'inaccessible' - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Amid criticism, Joel Osteen's church says it was 'inaccessible' but not closed during Harvey

ADVERTISEMENT
Bookmark and Share
This 2010 file photo shows pastor Joel Osteen at Dodger Stadium during his "A Night of Hope" in Los Angeles. (Source: AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File) This 2010 file photo shows pastor Joel Osteen at Dodger Stadium during his "A Night of Hope" in Los Angeles. (Source: AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

(RNN) – A popular TV evangelist is facing criticism over his church's response to Hurricane Harvey. 

Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church, an arena with more than 16,000 seats, was not designated a hurricane shelter as Harvey deluged the Houston area with historic rainfall.

The decision was met with cries to open the doors on social media. 

The church’s Facebook page reported on Sunday that it was “inaccessible due to severe flooding.”

Spokesperson Donald Iloff told the Houston Chronicle the church has never been closed and staff was instructed to help anyone who came asking for it. 

"It's not our unwillingness, it's just practicality. It's been a safety issue for us," he told Chron.com.

He also noted the city of Houston has a shelter set up at the local convention center.

“It has everything inside there, medicine, doctors, places to sleep,” Iloff told the New York Post. “It’s amazing what they’re doing there to make people comfortable.”

The church has since said it is mobilizing volunteers at city shelters and serving as a collection site for supplies, including baby formula and food.  

It is not clear whether Osteen evacuated ahead of the storm.

As Harvey approached the Texas coast, Houston’s mayor did not order an evacuation of the city, a decision some have called into question.

"You literally cannot put 6.5 million people on the road," Mayor Sylvester Turner said. “If you think the situation right now is bad, you give an order to evacuate, you are creating a nightmare.”

The city has seen nearly three feet of rain and crews have performed more than 3,000 water rescues in the area. 

Lakewood Church has opened its doors for storms in the past. 

The church hosted a benefit concert for flood relief in 2016 and sheltered 5,000 people during Tropical Storm Allison in 2001.

Copyright 2017 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

  • National, world weatherWeather and disaster coverageMore>>

  • Lane slightly decreases in intensity as it crosses Central Pacific

    Lane becomes Category 4 hurricane as it churns toward the Central Pacific

    Saturday, August 18 2018 11:14 PM EDT2018-08-19 03:14:33 GMT
    Hurricane Lane is slightly decreasing in intensity as it churns across the Central Pacific. (Image: NOAA)Hurricane Lane is slightly decreasing in intensity as it churns across the Central Pacific. (Image: NOAA)

    Hurricane Lane has entered the Central Pacific basin as a powerful Category 4 hurricane on a path toward the vicinity of the Hawaiian islands.

    More >>

    Hurricane Lane has entered the Central Pacific basin as a powerful Category 4 hurricane on a path toward the vicinity of the Hawaiian islands.

    More >>
  • Alert level raised for tiny volcanic isle in southern Japan

    Alert level raised for tiny volcanic isle in southern Japan

    Wednesday, August 15 2018 4:01 AM EDT2018-08-15 08:01:47 GMT
    Saturday, August 18 2018 9:18 PM EDT2018-08-19 01:18:05 GMT
    Japan has raised alert levels on a small southern volcanic island, urging its 150 residents to prepare for an evacuation amid growing risks of an eruption.More >>
    Japan has raised alert levels on a small southern volcanic island, urging its 150 residents to prepare for an evacuation amid growing risks of an eruption.More >>
  • Not just land heat waves: Oceans are in hot water, too

    Not just land heat waves: Oceans are in hot water, too

    Wednesday, August 15 2018 1:12 PM EDT2018-08-15 17:12:00 GMT
    Saturday, August 18 2018 9:18 PM EDT2018-08-19 01:18:00 GMT
    (AP Photo/Gregory Bull). FILE - In this Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013 file photo, a Guadalupe fur seal, foreground, passes by as SeaWorld animal rescue team member Heather Ruce feeds a California sea lion at a rescue facility in San Diego, with rescue crews s...(AP Photo/Gregory Bull). FILE - In this Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013 file photo, a Guadalupe fur seal, foreground, passes by as SeaWorld animal rescue team member Heather Ruce feeds a California sea lion at a rescue facility in San Diego, with rescue crews s...
    Even the oceans are breaking temperature records in this summer of heat waves.More >>
    Even the oceans are breaking temperature records in this summer of heat waves.More >>
Powered by Frankly