|Rain gnaws at patience, and infrastructure
Snow, landslides, high seas take its toll
T-shirt weather is due next week but, in the meantime, heavy showers
and flooding continue to make life difficult
Daily Star staff
With the war raging in Iraq and focusing attention on
political, military and humanitarian concerns, one question continues to haunt the
Lebanese: Will the rain ever stop?
Usually, at the end of March, we start wearing T-shirts, said Manal Qassem, an
18-year-old from Beirut. I cant take all the rain and cold anymore! Wont
it ever stop? Im sure somethings wrong with the ecosystem.
Although spring arrived on calendars on March 21, Tuesday saw snow still falling as low as
650 meters. Villages as low as Ain Saade in the Metn and Aitat in Baabda saw several hours
of steady snowfall in the morning, something unseen in March for many years.
Abu Mazen, a 60-year-old grocer from Jnah, said his house had been constantly flooded this
I live by the seafront and every week, the waters invade my home, he said.
Every time I clean the mess, another wave of rain comes and ruins everything.
According to the meteorological department at the Beirut International Airport, the
capital has seen 923 millimeters of precipitation this winter against 655 in the last, and
Tripoli, 1,243 millimeters against 884.
The average level over the whole year for both cities is 825 millimeters, which has
already been surpassed.
In Hayy al-Sellom, the Ghadir River has flooded in recent days, leaving nearby fields
looking like ponds of mud.
In Gemaizeh, road works have left a 2-meter-deep ditch along the 2 kilometer Mar Mikhael
road and residents suffering from the rain.
Look at the streets they look like a stream of blood, said resident Elie
This has been going on for over a month. Every time it rains, the mud from the work
site gets washed away and the rest of the street becomes flooded with sticky orange water.
Its scared away all our customers.
The heavy rain has also resulted in a series of accidents on the highway from Jounieh to
The rocks, earth and pine trees that fell as a result of a landslide cut off the road for
a few hours at two different places.
Civil Defense personnel and members of the Jounieh Municipal Council, however, quickly
cleared the road, reopening the path for motorists.
Experts say this wasnt the first such incident on the road, as the road lacks a
proper cement barrier to protect it from similar slides.
In the Bekaa, which was the scene of intensive floods last month, no major accidents were
reported. Baalbek, however, was covered in snow.
In Batroun, the heavy rains caused the collapse of part of a mountain near the coastal
road, at the Herri tunnel. The dirt and rocks blocked the road, and when Public Works
bulldozers cleared up the mess, another collapse caused the road to be blocked for a
The National News Agency said the ministry ordered the huge rocks dynamited to aid the
Hamat Mayor Mezher Karam demanded a radical solution since the nearby
mountains were liable to collapse at any moment.
Several parts of Dinnieh were also hit by flooded roads, cracks appearing in homes and
buildings, and damage to agricultural areas.
Banana and citrus orchards in Tyre were hit heavily by the Litani River overflowing its
banks, as residents asked the Higher Relief Committee to oversee a re-count of earlier
storm damage, which had already been conducted.
Also, the Civil Defense maritime rescue team located a fishing boat Tuesday that was
reported missing over the weekend after recent storms.
A Civil Defense statement said Tuesday the boat had left the Dora port Saturday with three
fishermen on board, Ospar Garmonian, Mohammed Ali Jaber, and Syrian national Walid
Khawand. The fishermen were found battling the waves off the Halat coast. The boat and its
crew were towed to the Halat Sur Mer beach resort, where they received first aid
On the brighter side, the rain is expected to stop by Wednesday afternoon, with
temperatures rising as of Thursday.
Next week if the forecast doesnt change by then is expected to be entirely
In Bsharri, mountain roads were only accessible for vehicles with chains, and steady
snowfall caused damage to plant nurseries and some crops, and a number of landslides
occurred in mountainous areas like Diman, Wadi Qannoubine, Kfar Sghab and Hadsheet.