The massive building continues to sit empty.
Joel Osteen is one of America's foremost pastor figures, regularly spreading the gospel of the church to crowds that number in the tens of thousands. However, following the onset of Hurricane Harvey and the damage it has done to Houston and other Texas towns, leaving many people stranded and homeless, Osteen has been facing a lot of criticism for keeping his Lakewood Church closed to evacuees and others seeking shelter and safety in the Houston area. The former home of the NBA's Rockets, the church has the capacity to seat 17,000 people, leaving many to wonder why the building hasn't been quicker to accommodate those in need. According to TMZ, Osteen's church issued a statement on Monday night that read as follows: "We have never closed our doors ... We will continue to be a distribution center to those in need. We are prepared to house people once shelters reach capacity."
The problem would seem that the capacity numbers for shelters in the area were reached a while ago. Based on the numbers from TMZ, the American Red Cross turned the Convention Center into an evacuee center, which is currently housing 8,800 people. The official capacity is listed at 5,000. The additional room would be more than welcomed from Osteen's facility and good news finally came this morning, courtesy of CNN: Lakewood Church will be opening its doors to Hurricane Harvey survivors as of noon today (August 29th). "Lakewood will be a value to the community in the aftermath of this storm in helping our fellow citizens rebuild their lives," said Osteen's father-in-law Donald Iloff. The reason it has remained closed until now was inaccessibility due to flooding, which was showcased by the church in several photos. One such snapshot shows standing water in a hallway and another focusing on the water levels in the main seating area as well.
The church should be welcoming people inside and housing them on the second floor, which reportedly hasn't been affected by the flooding. With capacity for several hundred people, the extra room will go a long way to making more and more people feel safe in this time of crisis.