Joel Osteen's megachurch begins operation as shelter amid firestorm

HOUSTON, Texas -- In the wake of widespread criticism over closing its doors to Harvey flood evacuees, Lakewood Church is taking in people as a shelter.

The Lakewood Church Twitter account gave notice for its opening:

Osteen also tweeted from his personal account that he and his wife, Victoria, "care deeply about our fellow Houstonians."

Over the weekend, a message posted to the Lakewood Church Facebook page said that church was "inaccessible due to severe flooding." The post included information on rescue and shelter resources available in other parts of the city.

But critics quickly took to social media questioning whether the building had been significantly impacted by the storm and calling on the church to do more for those affected by the flooding.

In a statement Monday to ABC News, the church's figurehead Joel Osteen said his organization was prepared to help those in need.

"We have never closed our doors. We will continue to be a distribution center for those in need. We are prepared to house people once shelters reach capacity. Lakewood will be a value to the community in the aftermath of this storm in helping our fellow citizens rebuild their lives."

Lakewood Church also provided ABC News photos it says shows the flooding around the church.

Photo courtesy of Lakewood Church

Photo courtesy of Lakewood Church

Photo courtesy of Lakewood Church
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