Letter from Beirut: Sleeping in the day and awake in the night

Another photo of the destroyed “Airport Bridge” in Ghobeiry area as local construction crews begin repair work the day after night-time Israeli missile strikes. (Stefan Christoff/Mohammed Shublaq)

July 14th, Morning update — Was awakened again by the Israeli planes in the sky and missiles form the sea. The Daahiye in Beirut (densely populated Shiite neighborhood) was hit all night long.

The first planes came at 3:30am, it has been raining ever since. They hit the power plants in the south on their way up to Beirut along with a bombardment of the Damascus Highway (the freeway linking Beirut to the Bekka and on to Syria). We are cut off, trade and supply wise, from the rest of the world.

There is no way to get out now, the airport is closed and the eastern road to Syria is destroyed. As of now, the only way to leave the country is through the northern boarder of Syria and through Homs and Aleppo. I imagine the roads will be full of people trying to get out soon.

I can’t believe how quickly things have gotten out of control. It is completely insane.

The sun has risen and the morning songs of the Beirut finches have replaced the Israeli planes.

Once again though family and friends are OK… I know a lot of you were trying to call but the reception kept coming in and out. Whenever an Israeli plane passes, there is no reception for quite a long diameter. We are all calling each other as we hear bombs drop to make sure our community is OK. Don’t worry though.

There is absolutely no one in my building; they are all on vacation, fled to Syria, or with family in the north so it was a bit eerie to be here alone. I live in a safe neighborhood near the American University so there is no way that Israel would bomb here. No work today so will head over to my uncle’s in Achrafieh and stay with the family there. Will call Dad up the hill too, so we will be together if you want to call.

Oh there goes another plane…nothing dropped though. They are just intimidating right now, we are saved by the daylight.

For those of you with family in the south, send me their info and I can check up on them. I have a number of friends who are scattered between different villages, so they can check up on people. We are also organizing to help out the domestic workers who were stranded, when their families could not get back to their homes. Many of them are left without electricity, phone, transportation, or any idea about where to find their “family” let alone any information in their native language about what is going on.

To Kristel, Cara and Steve, all our kids in Chatilla are OK…they have not hit there yet.

The hum of scooters and a few cars are now filling the urban streets. People are beginning to come out of their shells to assess the damage. My neighborhood is untouched and like a ghost town.

We are all going to be on the night shift now, sleeping in the day and awake in the night, so most of you will be on the same time zone for once.

And yes, yes, yes — I am staying away form the windows and have them cracked open a bit to prevent shattering in case of blast nearby or a distant sonic boom. I have a mattress in the hallway between the bedroom and the kitchen.

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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.