Paul Olsteen Responds to Hurricane Harvey Controversy: 'We're Doing Everything We Can'

'Worse than worst-case scenario for Houston': Harvey flooding catastrophic

'Worse than worst-case scenario for Houston': Harvey flooding catastrophic

After a torrent of social media shaming, Houston-based preacher Joel Osteen is finally allowing Hurricane Harvey victims to seek refuge in his mega-church.

The 16,800-seat church is also "raising money for people here in Houston" - but Osteen bumbled when asked which charity the money would be given to.

Meanwhile, 6,000 evacuees found shelter in the George R. Brown convention center, six miles away from the church and 1,000 past its stated capacity.

Photos provided by the church on Monday show flooding inside a building and on a street. "Lakewood's doors are open and we are receiving anyone who needs shelter". It's been a safety issue for us. "We took people in as soon as the waters receded", Osteen told Fox and Friends.

Osteen defended the church and said it was "never" closed and was serving as a relief supply distribution center, according to a statement. Osteen leads Lakewood Church in Houston, one of the largest congregations in the country - so big, its home used to be an National Basketball Association arena.

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People in need of help can dial 100 or send message on the city police's twitter handle for assistance, another official said. Local train services have also been hit with trains on all the three lines - western, central and harbor running late.

"I don't pay much attention to's too short to let that negative get in", Osteen responded before noting that he believes the criticism was orchestrated by people on social media who oppose evangelical Christians.

The controversy began last week, on Saturday, when the church released a statement via Facebook saying that the massive complex was "inaccessible due to severe flooding".

The church can accommodate several hundred people on its second floor, spokesman Don Iloff told CNN. He said the firestorm may have "helped us to step up some things" to prepare for evacuees. Open the doors and help people! But the idea that we wouldn't receive people, I mean we've been here in this community for 60 years and Allison, Tropical Storm Allison, we housed 3,000 people, so we've always been open.

Osteen's Lakewood Church boasts one of the largest weekly congregations in the country.

Four people have already died as a result of the storm, and more than 12 inches of rain are expected to hit the Houston area Tuesday.

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