Joel Osteen has confirmed that his church in Houston was not flooded, despite various photos that have been floating around the internet this week. There seemed to be a lot of confusion about why Osteen’s Lakewood Church didn’t open its doors to the people of Houston straight away.
At first, people believed that the church itself was flooded. Then, people started posting photos and videos of the church, which appeared to be dry. From there, more photos of a flooded facility appeared online, and many were led to believe these pictures were from the church. However, Osteen has pretty much cleared things up for the internet.
“I think sometimes social media can be very powerful and it can create this false narrative, but if you’re sitting in another state and you’re not here — I mean, my niece was stranded right across the street from this building with nowhere to go. This building was one foot from flooding. If we didn’t have our floodgates, it would have flooded,” Osteen said on Today, according to NBC News. “I don’t know if it’s unfounded but I think if people were here they’d realize there were safety issues, this building had flooded before, and so we were just being precautious (sic) but the main thing is the city didn’t ask us to become a shelter then,” he added.
So, what’s with all the photos of the flooding that appears on the “lower level” of the church? Check out the photos below. The picture on the left appears to be from Norfolk Street in Houston, which is near the church’s parking garage. The caption “Lakewood last night” was added in after the original photo was uploaded. The caption on the original photo read, “These pics were taken of Norfolk by LWC.”
The picture on the right may actually be from another place entirely.
If the above photo was of Osteen’s church, there’s likely no way he would have been able to accept people.
It seems as though many people may have taken Lakewood Church’s original post about flooding out of context. On August 27, the church posted the following update on Facebook.
“Dear Houstonians! Lakewood Church is inaccessible due to severe flooding! We want to help make sure you are safe. Please see the list below for safe shelters around our city, and please share this with those in need!”
The severe flooding was not actually in the church — it was in Houston, making it impossible for people to get to the church. Social media interpreted this update differently and ran with it, putting Osteen and his church front and center during this extremely trying time.
The good news is that Osteen has opened the church and people have sought shelter there. In addition, thousands of donations have poured in and volunteers have been working diligently to help those in need.