Houston megachurch pastor Joel Osteen told ABC’s “Good Morning America “ Wednesday morning that reports the church closed its doors and wouldn’t help people is “totally not true.”
Osteen who leads the 52,000-member church has been making the rounds on television and on social media to limit the damage done by early reports on social media that the church closed its doors as a storm shelter.
Speaking with host George Stephanopoulos, Osteen was shown in his Lakewood Church, surrounded by mountains of towels and baby supplies.
He said the church was there for people.
Osteen was roundly criticized on social media for not immediately taking in people seeking shelter from the historic flooding in Houston.
He said the church was now open to shelter people not able to get into other city-run shelters.
The church issued photos Tuesday of what appeared to be flooding in and around the building.
“We were taking in people as soon as flood waters receded,” Osteen said on GMA.
He said the city has a shelter four miles away from the massive church building. He said the church has served as a shelter before and is doing so again.
"I think somebody created that narrative that somehow we were high and dry and none of that is true," he said. "This building -- it was a safety issue and we took people in from the very beginning."
He said when people are not in similar situation they may not understand what is happening on the ground.
He said staffers and volunteers could not get to the building and it was risky to ask them to come.
“My niece was stranded across the street from this building,” he said.
Some were still critical, even after Osteen said the church would take in those who needed shelter.
He pledged the church would play an important role in helping people “rebuild their lives”...We’re in it for the long haul.”