Only the lucky of Lebanese are those who could skip going to work today and stay warm at home. Many of those who left to work since the early morning are still stuck in traffic as the roads are blocked with rocks, trees and floods caused by the storm. In Jadra a boy was killed and tens of houses were flooded in beirut southern suburb. Minister of interior affairs Mr. Marwan Charbel said the storm was not expected and called on people not to leave their homes unless in cases of urgency and emergency.
Both the consequences of the storm and the speech of Mr. Charbel were reflected with bitterness, sarcasm and humor in the tweets of the Lebanese. Doja Daoud (@DiAyDi) wondered “who would pay our salaries then,” if we follow the advice of the minister and stay home? Milad Hadshiti (@miladhad) sarcastically agreed the storm was not expected: “you are right Your Excellency, it’s the first time rain falls” in lebanon. Thaer Ghandour (@thaerghandour) wondered if the people stuck on the roads had something important to do out there or they just wanted to fool around in the city. Racha El Halabi (@racha93halabi) had a more serious approach. She demanded that if the roads will remain blocked tomorrow should be officially considered a day off.
In such crisis and helplessness the Lebanese always resort to their sense of humor to make their situation more endurable. While many of those stuck in blocked flooding roads tweeted pictures of the river-street, Ghenwa (@ghenwakb) proposed a prize for the person who takes a photo of the biggest street swimming pool. For those who couldn’t reach their destinations since hours, Doja Daoud tweeted a gentle reminder that “it takes thirty minutes from sea shore to mountain” – as the famous lebanese touristic legend says. In the same mood JM (@JKM2014) said: “i just saw a fish skiing in Faraya”.
Bassam Abu Zeid the well known TV news figure asked with humor if instead of selling bottles of cold water on the street sides someone will be selling hot tea. Hassan Jomaa @hassanjomaa tweeted with smart humor: “the ship Orient Queen is organizing trips from Hamra to Hay-el-sellom. A trip each three hours. Places limited. We have no other country to serve.” as such infrastructure can exist only in lebanon. Najib (@LeNajib) posted in his Blog Baladi photos of blocked roads he collected from twitter (check Najib’s blog. The photos show more than you imagine).
But even humor can reach to an end with the endless problems the lebanese have to suffer each winter. Many people tweeted they went back home after spending hours in traffic and many of them wondered if their day will be payed. Rita Sfeir (@SfeirRita) pointed to the irresponsible officials: “Same story, every winter. Time for leaders 2 focus on citizens issues?”. Michael Aswad (@MichaelAswad) pointed to the fact that despite of all this rain and floods we still have drinking water shortages in our taps: “It floods and yet we still have to buy water.” Zaher (@TheZako) criticized the lack of governmental effort in the maintenance of infrastructure, tweeting: “#Lebgov (the lebanese government) thinks roads have self-absorbing specifications that a drainage system is not required. Or may be they think solution is potholes. Johayna Khaldie (@Johaynah) considered that this storm should determine the results of the coming parliamentary elections if the lebanese people knew their rights.
Other tweets showed deep feelings of solidarity with the underprivileged part of our society, the people who suffer the most in the time of such chaos. Rita Khouri (@2020Rat) is grieved to remember people who live in tents. The child who died in Jadra is an Arab (bedouin) whose tent was swiped by floods. Thaer Ghandour noticed lack of official attention towards the death of a child and asked if nobody counts him because he is “arab”.
As the storm is prognosed to continue and get more severe in the following few days, lebanese official remain silent and busy tailoring an electoral law that fits them while the citizens console themselves with humor to survive.