The massive explosion that ripped through Beirut on August 4, 2020 not only claimed hundreds of lives and caused thousands of injuries, it also inflicted severe damage to at least 8,000 buildings, many concentrated in the old districts of Gemmayzeh and Mar-Mikhaël, holding significant architectural elements.
In immediate response to the blast, CCECS organized teams of volunteers and experts to offer practical support and solidarity in the most affected neighborhoods. In the first days on the ground, hundreds of AUB students, alumni, faculty, and staff addressed urgent needs, clearing debris and shattered glass from streets and homes. The recovery teams also made minor repairs, such as sealing broken windows with plastic and removing dangerous objects at risk of falling on residents. In parallel, CCECS enlisted volunteer architects and engineers to conduct community mapping and damage assessments to identify what is needed to ensure that disadvantaged residents can live safely in their homes.
Besides the action plan for quick high impact interventions, CCECS, in partnership with Al Maymouna Tanmiyah selected two residential houses located in Mar Mikhael, Armenia Street to handle their full rehabilitation.
The first house is in a non-classified heritage building where a plumber/ handyman and his wife, in their mid-forties, still live there to date. Restoring the blast-induced damage to windows, doors, and other unique architectural elements of their house exceeds their financial capabilities, particularly since they are both currently unemployed and are consequently struggling to cover their basic living expenses.
In the second house that lies in the heart of Mar Mikhael lives a man with disabilities (resulting from the Lebanese civil war) in his early sixties. The house, which was heavily damaged due to the explosion, is in a building whose structure is not classified as heritage, despite its unique architectural value, and its restoration is beyond the financial means of the resident himself.
48 volunteers were mobilized in rehabilitation works that spanned two months (November, December). Activities included: (1) addressing urgent needs (clearing debris and shattered glass from streets and homes, minor repairs such as sealing broken windows with plastic, and removing dangerous objects at risk of falling on residents), (2) assisting experts in rehabilitation works (plastering, sanding the walls, painting, roof insulation, woodworks, glass works, metal roof installation).
Beirut Recovery Project in numbers
- 782 volunteers (students, faculty, staff, and alumni) mobilized during the quick-impact interventions
- 48 volunteers (students, faculty, staff, and alumni) mobilized during the rehabilitation of the two residential houses
- 381 houses/ units assessed, cleared of debris, and assisted with minor repairs
- 1524 Beirut residents assisted