When Edward Haidar’s phone started to buzz at 7 a.m. Tuesday, he knew something was wrong.
“I saw maybe 12, 13 texts from my sister, who hardly ever sends me texts,” the San Diego small business owner said.
“And once I opened the video, I was just shocked. It was a shock.”
Edward and his wife Suher, both Lebanese-Americans who have family and friends in Beirut, could not believe the images of destruction they were seeing on social media after an enormous explosion rocked the city Tuesday.
The blast killed more than 130 people and wounded thousands. Tens of thousands were left homeless by what authorities believe was a 2,750 tons of explosive ammonium nitrate sparked by a fire after sitting in a warehouse for years.
The owners of Mama’s Bakery in North Park were just one pair from San Diego’s vibrant Lebanese community who immediately started calling to check on loved ones.
“He has sisters, nephews, and nieces, I have my cousins, uncles,” explained Suher.
“It’s definitely hitting us really hard.”
Thankfully all of their family is accounted for, but on Wednesday afternoon, Edward had still not heard from one friend who lived near the blast site.
“It’s gutwrenching. You just don’t know what’s happening. They could be —God forbid something happened to him,” Edward told NBC 7.
“Right away I called and texted, and nothing yet.”
Both acknowledged that the timing couldn’t have been worse, as Lebanon has been hit hard by the coronavirus, and is suffering from widespread economic hardship as well.
And while they hope the explosion was not an attack or intentional, they know Beirut will rise and recover.
“[The Lebanese are] very strong and they will rebuild and they will make the country beautiful again. It’s just a matter of time,” said Suher.
The couple recommended folks who wish to help donate to the Lebanese Red Cross, which has been on the scene since the start of the tragedy.