Sleeping lady: Texas church prepares for Hurricane Michael

After finding the cash and money orders while performing maintenance repairs, Scott Huckabay plans to pay for workers’ salaries and benefits out of the money

A plumber found hundreds of pounds of cash in a bathroom wall at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston on Wednesday, police said.

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Scott Huckabay, a plumber who was conducting maintenance repairs in the church’s mechanical maintenance room, discovered a large amount of notes, Houston police spokesman Victor Senties said. He reported the discovery after finding them.

He apparently started looking for coins and found multiple dollars with serial numbers on them that appeared to be put in a safe inside the plumbing cabinet, Senties said.

Investigators believe the coin collection occurred during a church function.

Lakewood is the main satellite church of Osteen’s Lakewood megachurch.

“The money was found in a wall area behind the bathroom,” Senties said. “It’s a common area for many of the services of Lakewood Church. We’re not aware of any problem with that location.”

Meanwhile, the Texas capital was flooded Wednesday by worsening weather that sent Houstonians scrambling for shelters and families evacuated from east Texas on Monday by Hurricane Michael.

Officials warned residents in and around downtown Harris County, Houston’s most populated area, to brace for conditions that could worsen Wednesday night as the heavy rains continue to pour into the area from Florence.

Floodwater from two swollen rivers reached as high as half-foot (18cm) above their banks early Wednesday after thousands of people have evacuated in the area, nearly a week after Tropical Storm Harvey dumped devastating amounts of rain in the same area.

Haley Paine, who was evacuated from her home in a section of Houston under a mandatory evacuation order ahead of the storm, turned in to a shelter at a Knights of Columbus hall to make a change of clothes when the shelter she was at ran out of pillows Tuesday.

Evacuation orders have gone into effect for Harris County, which encompasses most of Houston, and its surrounding area.

It remains unclear how many people have taken refuge in the shelters, but officials told reporters Tuesday they expect the population to grow.

George Logothetis, who lives nearby in a Houston suburb, said he wants the decision to be temporary until the Red Cross can build a new shelter in his community.

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“I would like to come back and volunteer to put together a small generator and give back to this community,” Logothetis said. “I want to take this experience and do something positive.”

Many of the shelters in place at Monday night closed down as the floods were building.

State and county officials promised to open as many as 20 shelters in the Houston area Wednesday night, and some people evacuated from the Houston area have left a makeshift center at a northwest Houston community college, moved to the city and are waiting for either a shelter or to be placed in state-run housing in the area.

On Tuesday night, a woman in the facility was seen on television jumping off a table and falling through the ceiling. Before the fall, the woman was at least two feet away from another person on the floor.

Meanwhile, the storm system remained dangerous. A death toll of at least 10 was reported as storm-related deaths in the Florida Panhandle and southwestern Georgia were expected to climb Wednesday.

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