Amid criticism, Joel Osteen's church says it was 'inaccessible' - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, 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>>

  • SEVERE WEATHER AWARENESS: Tornadoes

    SEVERE WEATHER AWARENESS: Tornadoes

    Source: ViewerSource: Viewer

    As part of the NWS’ Severe Weather Awareness Week, WAFB wants you to know more about: Tornadoes.

    More >>

    As part of the NWS’ Severe Weather Awareness Week, WAFB wants you to know more about: Tornadoes.

    More >>
  • Volcanic blast reshaped summit of Indonesia's Mount Sinabung

    Volcanic blast reshaped summit of Indonesia's Mount Sinabung

    Tuesday, February 20 2018 2:12 AM EST2018-02-20 07:12:16 GMT
    Friday, February 23 2018 4:38 PM EST2018-02-23 21:38:20 GMT
    (AP Photo/Sarianto). School children walk as Mount Sinabung erupts in Karo, North Sumatra, Indonesia, Monday, Feb. 19, 2018. Rumbling Mount Sinabung on the Indonesian island of Sumatra has shot billowing columns of ash more than 5,000 meters (16,400 fe...(AP Photo/Sarianto). School children walk as Mount Sinabung erupts in Karo, North Sumatra, Indonesia, Monday, Feb. 19, 2018. Rumbling Mount Sinabung on the Indonesian island of Sumatra has shot billowing columns of ash more than 5,000 meters (16,400 fe...
    Volcanologists say the eruption of Indonesia's Mount Sinabung that shot ash 5 kilometers (3 miles) high also "completely annihilated" the mountain's summit.More >>
    Volcanologists say the eruption of Indonesia's Mount Sinabung that shot ash 5 kilometers (3 miles) high also "completely annihilated" the mountain's summit.More >>
  • Some fear California drought cuts could erase water rights

    Some fear California drought cuts could erase water rights

    Tuesday, February 20 2018 2:01 AM EST2018-02-20 07:01:58 GMT
    Friday, February 23 2018 4:38 PM EST2018-02-23 21:38:01 GMT
    (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File). FILE - This Sept. 3, 2015, file photo shows a dried-out lawn at Los Angeles City Hall, with a sign explaining that irrigation has been shut off due to the ongoing drought. California water managers will vote Tuesday, Feb. 20, ...(AP Photo/Nick Ut, File). FILE - This Sept. 3, 2015, file photo shows a dried-out lawn at Los Angeles City Hall, with a sign explaining that irrigation has been shut off due to the ongoing drought. California water managers will vote Tuesday, Feb. 20, ...

    The restrictions would include prohibitions on watering lawns so much that the water flows into the street, using a hose to wash down sidewalks, or using a hose without an automatic shut-off nozzle to wash cars.

    More >>

    The restrictions would include prohibitions on watering lawns so much that the water flows into the street, using a hose to wash down sidewalks, or using a hose without an automatic shut-off nozzle to wash cars.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly