At least three staff members at Pastor Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, had to be rescued from their homes while several others experienced flooding due to the impact of Hurricane Harvey.
"I know of about three staff members that have needed to be rescued. There may be more but I happen to know of about three of them that literally had to be pulled out of high water," Lakewood spokesperson Don Iloff, Osteen's brother-in-law, told The Christian Post on Monday.
While many flood rescue crews have traveled to southeast Texas from other states to aid in saving victims from a storm that has turned roads into rivers and already claimed lives, Iloff told CP that in many cases, neighbors are rescuing neighbors.
"You know what is interesting is that a lot of the rescuing that is going on in this city is not just rescue crews, it's just people rescuing other people," he stated. "Everybody that has got a boat has put a boat in the water in this city."
As for Osteen and his wife, Victoria, Iloff told CP that the Osteen family is safe but without power.
"I haven't talked to them in two days. I know someone made it over there and said everybody is OK. They are on pretty high ground," Iloff explained. "If you are not flooded, you are surrounded by water in this city. If you are not flooded, you now have waterfront property. "
Some on social media have criticized Osteen and Lakewood for announcing that they had canceled Sunday's services because of the hurricane, suggesting that the church is closed to those who need to access the massive arena for shelter.
However, Iloff told CP that there are currently about eight maintenance personnel inside the church who have been instructed to let anyone into the church who needs shelter. But to Iloff's knowledge, no one has come to the church seeking shelter.
"They would have to swim to get there," he explained, adding that there is a flood shelter set up a couple miles from the church at the George R. Brown Convention Center.