It’s been a little over one month now since the Beirut port blast rocked the capital of Lebanon. Buildings still lie shattered. Rubble is still piled on the side of roads. People injured in the blast still walk around with slings and bandages.
But there’s signs of slow recovery. Some floors of buildings now have windows where once only jagged gaping holes stood. The piles of rubble are less, and many are simply from the progress being made clearing out building interiors and moving the mess to the street to be hauled off. People still bear the marks of their blast injuries, but stitches are turning to scars, and healing is happening.
It’s painfully slow sometimes. In a country where nothing happened fast even on a good day, progress in this unequivocally difficult time is markedly slow.
But the pieces are being picked up. One pile of rubble at a time, one window at a time, one home at a time.
Our Team Is Shifting To Rebuild Phase
We still have some pending requests for clean up (devastated buildings are still plentiful out here) but we are purposely pushing more time and resources to rebuilding homes destroyed in the blast. This is the final phase of help that we hope to provide to those in Lebanon immediately affected by the blast. If we can get the basic repairs done on their homes, they can hopefully return. This includes replacing all the broken windows in a home – in some flats it can be almost 30 different panes of glass needed! – as well as fixing or replacing exterior doors and interior doors.
Most homes nearby the blast had the doors literally ripped out of the walls. One home we are beginning to rebuild this week is only a quarter mile from the blast epicenter. The elderly man that lived there survived the blast, thankfully, with moderate but recoverable injuries. He had lived through the Lebanese civil war in the 1970s/1980s and had installed all-metal blast doors on parts of his house that used to take shrapnel from explosions during the civil war. Those doors that stood through decades of war were totally blown off their concrete moorings in the wall (picture’s on the left). That is how powerful the Beirut explosion was. That’s also why a lot of our work involves getting carpenters on site to put in new doors.
This past week we also had some homes almost completely closed out for rebuild. These were some of the first homes we connected with in the early weeks, and it’s been good to see them come full circle to nearing completion. One middle-aged woman who had all her doors and windows replaced told us she couldn’t find words to properly thank us. But then in true Lebanese fashion she said she’d thank us by cooking us all a big meal some day soon! The hospitality in this country is legendary.
We don’t serve to receive thank you’s – we serve because the Lord calls us to do so – but it is always nice when the people we help do express their appreciation! Thus far we have had many of the Lebanese share their gratefulness for the help received. It’s been a strong encouragement to keep going to help even more as we know the help is not just welcomed but also needed by them.
Time And Weather Are Not On Our Side
There is one point of urgency worthy to note for prayer. We are running out of time to rebuild homes because the winter rains are approaching. Lebanon is an all or nothing country in terms of weather. It won’t rain – at all – for months in the summer. Not even a drop from about April to October. But when it rains, it pours. Lebanon turns into a cold, damp, wet country for months on end.
The rainy season of fall/winter is not far away. Because all the buildings here are stone and concrete, doing any kind of concrete work becomes extremely difficult if not impossible. Because so may doors and windows were ripped right out of the metal frames anchored into the concrete, this means to replace them there has to be some masonry work done first. Even in cases where the window frames themselves weren’t so damaged that they can just have glass replaced without masonry work, time is still critical. If we don’t get glass in these windows, the rains will ruin many homes. This is a problem the entire downtown and all the other volunteer groups are facing. Putting plastic or wood over the open windows can somewhat help, but may not be sufficient for the intensity of rain and dampness coming our way. Pray we could help those we’ve committed to help before these rains come!
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