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Louisiana televangelist Jesse Duplantis criticized for response to hurricane victims

"Outside of your podcasts and Facebook staged videos I've not seen nor heard from you or your church staff," one critic wrote on Facebook.

Jesse Duplantis, a televangelist in Louisiana, is drawing criticism for his ministry's response to Hurricane Ida.

Duplantis, who heads Jesse Duplantis Ministries, was criticized on the ministry's Facebook page by commenters who accused him of not doing enough to help those affected by the storm, which made landfall in southeast Louisiana last month.

St. Charles Parish, where Duplantis' Covenant Church is, was one of the areas hardest hit by Ida. On Wednesday, more than a week after the storm, 95 percent of customers in the parish remained without power.

"Shame on you and all that allow you to profit from this disaster!" Brandi Abate, who lives in St. Rose, not far from Duplantis' home, wrote in a Facebook post Tuesday.

"Outside of your podcasts and Facebook staged videos I've not seen nor heard from you or your church staff," she wrote.

The post, which is addressed to Duplantis and his wife, Kathy, had been shared 370 times by early Wednesday afternoon, and it had elicited more than 170 comments, the majority of them expressing support for Abate.

Abate said she wrote her post in a moment of anger after having stumbled across a video of the Duplantises, posted Tuesday, that included instructions about how to text monetary donations.

"I don't even go to his church but I tuned in because it was in my parish," she said. "I was so angered by the fact that he has so much and he still wants more."

In a video posted Tuesday on the ministry's Facebook page, Duplantis said that he and his wife had given away $100,000 worth of generators.

"We are helping people literally all over, everywhere," Duplantis said. He said that "rumors" were being spread that the ministry wasn't helping the damaged community and that it was "all a bunch of malarkey."

The Duplantises didn't immediately return requests for interviews Wednesday. In the video posted to the ministry's Facebook page Tuesday, Jesse Duplantis said that they had endured "some damage" and that contractors were working 16 hours a day.

He said that 100 percent of donations were going to hurricane relief and that those who know him and his wife know that they don't do "half the things that people say."

"I guess they don't have nothing to do," he said, referring to his critics.

Negative comments were repeatedly removed from the ministry's page Wednesday, including ones that compared the couple to Joel Osteen, the leader of the Lakewood Church, whose home is a 16,000-seat arena in Houston.

After Hurricane Harvey displaced tens of thousands of people in August 2017, Osteen tweeted that he and his wife were praying for those affected. Days later, after he faced an onslaught of criticism on social media, Osteen said the megachurch was welcoming Texans seeking shelter.

Sarah Jory, who lives in Luling, Louisiana, in St. Charles Parish, also criticized the Duplantises on Facebook. She said in an interview that she didn't know anyone in the parish who got one of the generators Duplantis said he had given away.

Abate and Jory said they have been told that their power will be restored by Sept. 29.

Abate said she drove to the ministries Wednesday afternoon to inquire about obtaining a generator and was told none were available.

In a recording shared with NBC News of a separate encounter, a man at the church Wednesday offered water but said that generators had been given away.

"I am not holding my tongue when I'm watching this man watch his community fall to pieces and do nothing about it," Abate said. "He is nothing more than an actor. You can put him up there with De Niro and Travolta and all of them."

Jesse Duplantis faced backlash in May 2018 after he said God told him he needed a pricey new jet and asked his followers to pay for it. He said at the time, "If Jesus was physically on the Earth today, he wouldn't be riding a donkey."

Abate said she has nearly depleted her life savings buying a generator and supplies to care for herself, her elderly relatives and neighbors. She has endured record high temperatures in her home and is without sewerage. She said she used zip ties to hold an old greenhouse together so she can shower in her yard.

Abate said she and her friends are cooking for those in need and helping people find meals and places to shower and sleep. She questioned how many people the couple had invited to shower or rest at their "fully generated gated comfort zone."

Abate said Wednesday that significantly smaller churches have been aiding hurricane victims.

She said she hadn't seen Jesse and Kathy Duplantis shaking hands and providing comfort. "Much less offering anyone a snazzy new generator," she wrote. "I'm disgusted with how your 'MINISTRY' has locked its gates to those who live steps away. Shame on you sir."

She concluded her post by complimenting the couple on the "nice outfits" they wore in the Facebook video.

"I'm in the same clothes since Sunday," Abate wrote. "Thanks for Nothing!"

CORRECTION (Sept. 8, 2021, 10:00 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated St. Rose's municipal status. It is a town, not a parish.