Berri calls for speedy damage assessments in Ras Baalbeck
Son of woman killed in severe flooding says death due to negligence
BEIRUT: Speaker Nabih Berri Thursday called for speedy damage assessments in Ras Baalbeck following severe flooding the previous day.
Berri pushed for evaluations to move quickly so that residents could be compensated if their property or crops were destroyed. The speaker’s comments came after a telephone call with Higher Relief Committee head Maj. Gen. Mohammad Kheir, a statement from his office said.
A woman in her 70s was a victim of the flooding. Shahira Blaais reportedly drowned after floodwaters passed through her home.
Speaking to local media outlet LBC, the victim’s son said that while floods have hit the area regularly for the past five years, “for my mother to die in her own home ... that is due to negligence.”
“They called her a martyr. But a martyr for what? I don’t know. Maybe the martyr of negligence.”
The floods damaged at least 40 houses and dozens of cars in Ras Baalbeck and the nearby towns of Al-Qaa and Arsal.
In a media conference held in Ras Baalbeck, caretaker Energy Minister Cesar Abi Khalil said the repairs necessary to restore electricity in the area were completed at 11 a.m. Thursday, recovering network damages resulting from the floods.
During an earlier meeting with Baalbeck-Hermel Gov. Bashir Khodor, Kheir and other concerned parties reached an agreement to rebuild walls that would prevent floods in Ras Baalbeck and divert the riverbed, Abi Khalil said.
Building reservoirs or constructing a dam are also being considered, Abi Khalil said, adding that he preferred the former option over the latter.
A disaster management delegation from the prime minister’s office also visited Ras Baalbeck. Headed by the disaster management project’s director Zahi Chahine, the delegation inspected the area and met with a UNDP Disaster Risk Management committee in Baalbeck-Hermel to discuss solutions to severe flooding. Municipality representatives also attended the meeting, the state-run National News Agency reported.
The disaster management delegation met with Khodor at noon.
The group’s visit came after premier-designate Saad Hariri contacted authorities Wednesday and made a request from Moscow, where he met President Vladimir Putin and Thursday attended the opening match of the World Cup, to launch a “rapid investigation” into the flooding.
When the floods swept the area, President Michel Aoun was briefed by Kheir on efforts to unblock the area’s storm drains and assess the damage while securing lodging for residents whose homes were badly affected. –
Abi Khalil checks the flood damage in Ras Baalbeck. He said repairs to restore electricity in the area had been completed Thursday morning.