Letter from Beirut: Eerily silent in the city

Syrian TV screenshot of “The Great Popular Showroom”, a car sales outlet in Beirut, with one of the cars damaged by Israeli shelling. (EI)


July 15 morning update — After all the retaliations it was eerily quiet after 1:00 am in Beirut Friday night. Israeli ships could be seen encroaching the perimeter of the northern seaside. The Israeli planes were too busy hitting what they had left in the south and beginning their northern operations to bother with Beirut.  We heard the planes all night but they were in the distant as they passed over and kept on trucking up north. The fires are still burning in Bir Hassan from yesterdays attacks. Smoke billows in formations like cumulonimbus clouds.
 
It was amazing last night to see the views of the destruction form up high in Sassine. We could see everything all around the city … we were like a watchtower, rushing to balconies as new sites were hit, looking through binoculars to zoom in on the details, sending messages to our friends and family to let them know where the missiles dropped and whether they were from land or sea, which way the smoke was blowing.
 
This morning the power station in the north in Bared was hit around 10:00 am. They are hitting the road north of Beirut to Syria right now, cutting off all access in and out of the country.   My uncle is trying to get across the Syrian boarder to come into Lebanon to be with is wife and children; hopefully he makes the crossing OK. We are getting cut off.  
 
I’m amazed that the Internet is still connected and the phones are working too.
 
The French Embassy is evacuating their nationals.
 
A few cars are out in the streets now, but it is very quiet.  Funny how accustomed you can get to the chaos that when it calms down it feels a bit unsettling.   One of my friends could not sleep at all last night due to the silence in the streets.
 
My shoulder is hurting more today for some reason, I think I am typing too much. Gonna take a break now…
 
Fill you in when I hear more.

July 15, afternoon update at 1:30PM Hitting Daahieh continually now… all the roads across the boarder are closed…

People in the south are without fuel, power or telephones… they are soon to run out of food if they are in the cities. Those in the rural areas are able to live off of the farms. The generator companies and warehouses have been hit to prevent life from continuing as normal as well…

The Bekka and Broumana were hit this afternoon as well.

We had a few hours of peace in Beirut but now the ships are blasting.

There are more and more Israeli ships along the coast. They are even coming inside the Beirut Ports.

The French Embassy evacuated a large number of nationals over the land boarder a few hours ago. Many more waiting to leave but the border is now inaccessible. They are talking of sending in a ship that the Israeli sea barricade will allow passage.

I still have no word of any evacuation form the US embassy. Been in contact with them this morning but nothing is organized. Would feel like a traitor leaving everyone behind though…

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Renee Codsi is a 29-year-old Lebanese American who came to Beirut in June 2002. Codsi is a Marine Biologist and International Educator teaching environmental sciences and outdoor education at the American Community School of Beirut and coordinating an environmental and education program sponsored by NASA called GLOBE (Global Learning through Observations While Benefiting the Environment) in Lebanon.