Texas megachurch pastor Joel Osteen defended his response to Hurricane Harvey Wednesday morning, which continues to bring rain and flooding to the Houston region.
Speaking to ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Osteen said:
“The narrative is that we didn’t want to take people in or we didn’t open in time, which is totally not true. We were here for people, we were a shelter, we were taking people as soon as the flood waters receded.”
Osteen said the city has a shelter nearby, “When their shelter was totally full, they started bringing people over here. Here we are again today. I don’t know, I think somebody created that narrative that somehow we were high and dry and none of that is true.”
Osteen said his church took people in “from the very beginning.”
He later insisted that if the city of Houston “would have asked us to become a shelter early on, we would have prepared for it.”
His comments come after he faced scrutiny on social media for not initially opening up his church — which is housed in a former basketball arena and can accommodate 16,000 people — as shelter.
Osteen said Tuesday he would open up his church to those seeking shelter in the aftermath of the storm.
“Victoria and I care deeply about our fellow Houstonians. Lakewood’s doors are open and we are receiving anyone who needs shelter,” Osteen wrote Tuesday on Twitter.
In a statement posted Sunday to Facebook, the church had said the facility was “inaccessible due to severe flooding,” but photos taken showed otherwise.
Osteen was doing serious damage control this morning, and also appeared on CNN, CBS, and Fox News.