HOUSTON, TX - Pastor Joel Osteen’s Houston megachurch says it’s opening its doors Tuesday to residents displaced by Houston's catastrophic flooding. The church is located at 3700 Southwest Freeway, Houston, TX at 77027.
Lakewood Church was founded by Osteen’s father in the 1950s. Church officials posted on social media Monday that the church was “inaccessible due to severe flooding” following Hurricane Harvey, which has been downgraded to a tropical storm. The message included the National Guard rescue hotline, along with a list of shelters that displaced Texans could go to.
Many on social media at first criticized the church for not taking flood victims in, but the church responded quickly to the backlash. “We have never closed our doors. We will continue to be a distribution center for those in need."
“We are prepared to shelter people once the cities and county shelters reach capacity. Lakewood will be a value to the community in the aftermath of this storm in helping our fellow citizens rebuild their lives.”
Photos from within the church showed standing water in hallways and the parking lot. The church already had a flood wall in place following a previous storm. The church, which occupies the former home of the Houston Rockets, will also be used as a donation center and is scheduled to open around noon, said a church spokesman, Donald Iloff.
At least several hundred people can be housed on the 2nd floor of the church, he said The area around the church flooded on Monday, Iloff said, and at least three people came to the church for help before they were taken to the George Brown Convention Center.
Houston officials continue to get thousands of calls from flood-stranded Texans. Thousands have been rescued since Harvey made landfall on Friday, many are still waiting to picked up.