There have been numerous rumors surrounding Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, where Joel Osteen serves as the pastor. As Hurricane Harvey dumped several inches of rain on the Houston area, some people found themselves wondering if Osteen’s church — which was once the home of the Houston Rockets — would open its doors to the public. However, the church ended up closing over the weekend, canceling Sunday services due to the storm.
On August 27, Lakewood Church posted an 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 update read in part.
Since that time, several photos and videos of the church has been posted on social media. Some people claim that the church did not suffer any flooding and that the areas around the outside of the church prove that the water levels didn’t get very high and that the church managed to stay dry inside despite the severe weather. You can see a couple of these photos and a video below.
Other photos seem to show the complete opposite. People have been posting pictures of severe flooding and water damage inside the church. Take a look at the flooding photos below.
So, which photos are real? According to Snopes, Jorge Colmenares, the man who posted the Facebook video of the dry parking garage, told the site that there was indeed some flooding at the church, but not on the main floors.
“I was doing recon around my surrounding area and checking up on my work location. Lakewood is always on my route. I was expecting to see flood in the garage area but it wasn’t at all…Lakewood and it’s surrounding area was legit flooded out…The church was flooded on the inside, garage level, basement level, not where the main floors are. It’s a huge place,” Mr. Colmenares told Snopes.
The site has reached out to Lakewood Church for clarification, but has yet to hear back.
Around of 11 a.m. Eastern, the church announced that it was “receiving people who need shelter.”