Lebanon News

Beirut trash washed away by heavy rains

Activists clean the Beirut river, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015. (The Daily Star/Stringer)

BEIRIUT/SIDON/TRIPOLI: Piles of uncollected trash washed up along streets of the capital Sunday after the skies dumped heavy rains and caused flooding.

Some palm trees were uprooted as the storm brought strong winds to the southern city of Sidon and several greenhouses along the southern coastal highway were destroyed.

Powerful winds also ripped scaffolding right off the façade of the Makassed building under renovation in Sidon. No casualties were reported. However, four cars were damaged.

The scene in north Lebanon was very much the same.

Heavy rain flooded streets in Tripoli with mud and trash as rain water entered many shops in Souk al-Qameh and several neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh.

Heavy traffic ensued after many motorists were stranded on the main highway linking Tripoli with the northernmost region of Akkar as they drove through deep water that flooded their engines.

In the northern districts of Zghorta and Koura, flashfloods washed away plastic trash bags, choking rainwater drains.

Waterways that had been neglected blocked the Bakhoun-Taran overpass, bringing traffic to a standstill. The bridge was drowned with 30cm of water.

A video posted on You Stink campaign’s Facebook page showed hundreds of trash bags being washed away by flood waters.“What are we going to tell our kids tomorrow?” said a comment under the video.

You Stink activists undertook a daring move Sunday morning and began removing trash piled up on the banks of Beirut River.

In a separate video posted to its Facebook wall, campaigners in black raincoats and facemasks were seen using a forklift truck to pick up trash and debris off the riverbanks under heavy rain.

Mounds of garbage piled up in and around Beirut had lain unattended for nearly three months after the country’s largest Naameh landfill closed in July.

When the first rains arrived in Lebanon last month, experts warned that the perils of inaction were mounting. “We are waiting for the danger to reach our homes,” said Jean Abi Rizk, a water sanitation expert.

He warned a heavy downpour in the Jeita-Daraya-Jaltoun-Ballouneh area would halt Beirut’s access to water.

Beirut Governor Ziad Chebib ordered municipal workers to open all roads closed due to flooding and pump out flooded basements and stores.

Public Works and Transport Minister Ghazi Zeaiter expressed pity for Lebanon’s plight.

Nonetheless, Zeaiter said he was ready “to cooperate with everybody, using any means possible to ensure that citizens don’t pay the price."

Garbage has piled up on streets and reached rivers and forests after the famous Naameh dump shut down in July. Originally designed to receive 2 million tons of trash, Naameh has received over 15 million to the date of closure.

A plan approved by the government last month to end the three-month trash crisis has faced strong opposition from the start.

 

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