Hurricane Harvey has dumped over 30 inches of rain throughout parts of southeast Texas since it made landfall Friday evening. The storm and ensuing flooding have left at least 300,000 people without power and roughly 30,000 displaced to temporary shelters.
Thousands of people were still awaiting rescue as of Monday night.
Dozens of Houston-area churches, schools and community centers opened their doors to offer temporary shelter to survivors, while other local houses of worship organized volunteer teams to help with relief efforts.
One church, however, drew criticism online for remaining shut. Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church, a 16,800-seat indoor arena, announced on Facebook that it was “inaccessible due to severe flooding.”
The post included a long list of resources for those affected by the storm, including the street addresses for nine temporary shelters in Houston and surrounding counties.
Osteen also posted prayers on social media over the weekend for those affected by the disaster.
Victoria & I are praying for everyone affected by Hurricane Harvey. Please join us as we pray for the safety of our Texas friends & family.
— Joel Osteen (@JoelOsteen) August 26, 2017
Osteen and his wife live in a $10.5 million mansion in the upscale River Oaks neighborhood in central Houston. The neighborhood was hit with intense flooding over the weekend, with rescue teams coming to evacuate residents and their dogs. The preacher did not say whether his home was damaged.
Lakewood Church has previously helped with relief efforts in the city, most recently hosting a benefit concert in 2016 after heavy flooding. In 2001, the church sheltered roughly 5,000 Texans displaced by a tropical storm.
But the church’s response to Harvey drew harsh criticism on social media, with hundreds of users saying Osteen owes the city more than his prayers.
You know who hasn't opened his enormous, tax-exempt mega-church as a shelter?
About all those tax-free millions, Joel...
— Alysson (@Alysson) August 28, 2017
Joel Osteen has a HUGE church in Houston that would make a great shelter. pic.twitter.com/byqHxXrHQn
— Brasilmagic (@Brasilmagic) August 28, 2017
— Victoria Brownworth (@VABVOX) August 28, 2017
Open your church as a shelter. Provide food and clothing. Please
— Rhonda Harbison (@rhonda_harbison) August 28, 2017
— Qasim Rashid, Esq. (@MuslimIQ) August 28, 2017
@JoelOsteen Dude, open up your church, and open up your home. Come on, man.....
— Jacob Detamore (@kipsbigboy) August 28, 2017
Why isn't Joel Osteen mega church in Houston Texas is not open to the public in need of shelter, food and protection?
— Mr. Weeks (@MrDane1982) August 27, 2017
— Lindsey McCarthy (@lndsymm) August 28, 2017
— colmant_ (@colmant_) August 28, 2017
— njr🥀 (@nrxci) August 28, 2017
— KL 🦋 (@kbarnie34) August 28, 2017
— Engage The Gospel (@JimRuquet) August 28, 2017
Why don't you do something besides pray for the flood victims? You have tremendous resources.
— Steve Weakley (@tvsteve) August 28, 2017
Osteen and Lakewood Church did not immediately respond to requests for comment or say what other relief efforts they would be offering.
The church announced Monday afternoon that it was partnering with Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian aid organization, to raise funds to support hurricane relief efforts.
Freelance reporter Ruth Graham also posted a thread on Twitter saying she had spoken to a Lakewood representative who said the church wouldn’t turn anyone away.
“We ARE open,” he told me. “Anyone who comes there, we’ll let in.” Skeleton staff of 6-8 are on site.
— Ruth Graham (@publicroad) August 28, 2017
The representative also reportedly told Graham that the church wasn’t flooded but would be difficult for most people to access due to nearby flooding.
Olsteen and Lakewood Church released another statement Monday night, arguing the establishment did not close its doors and would house people once shelters became full.
— Anastasia (@AnastasiaElyseW) August 29, 2017
A photo posted on social media by HuffPost blogger Charles Clymer appeared to show air mattresses being set up in a hallway of the church on Monday night. Don Iloff, a spokesperson for Lakewood, told Chron.com that the church had “begun preparing” for the arrival of evacuees. He was not able to confirm the authenticity of Clymer’s photo which was shared thousands of times on Twitter.
This article has been updated with additional information from Lakewood Church and freelance reporter Ruth Graham.
Also on HuffPost
— Mike Theiss (@MikeTheiss) August 26, 2017
— Jeremy Schwartz (@JinATX) August 26, 2017
— Jeff Gammons (@StormVisuals) August 26, 2017
— Jeff Gammons (@StormVisuals) August 26, 2017
— Andee🔵🦅🇺🇸 (@andeew2016) August 26, 2017
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.