i think hezbollah is pulling ahead in the reconstruction road race... FEMA, it's time to learn from Construction Jihad
As an example of Hezbollah’s hold on everyday life in southern Lebanon, Ali Bazzi, the mayor of Bint Jbail, outlined his big dreams for his half-demolished town as workmen raced past and tractors rumbled.
“We are going to turn this city into a model city,” Mr. Bazzi said, his arm clutching a trademark Hezbollah two-way radio. “There will be streets organized in grids, parks in every neighborhood and apartment blocks.”
Mr. Bazzi is counting on Construction Jihad. Just a day after the fighting stopped, Construction Jihad enlisted the volunteer services of 1,700 engineers, electricians, plumbers, architects and geologists who have cleared streets, dug ditches and built temporary bridges.
While the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora has just begun organizing committees to study the reconstruction of the country, Construction Jihad has all but completed surveys of southern Lebanese towns.
“We were victorious over Israel,” said Mr. Bazzi. “Now we have to rise to the occasion that follows.”
Teams of volunteers wearing Construction Jihad baseball caps have crisscrossed Bint Jbail and other southern cities. On Monday, the organization began signing up families for grants of between $10,000 and $15,000 to help cover rent and furnishings until new homes are built, and began helping small businesses reopen. They have worked to help restore electricity in many towns and to get water flowing again.
“We consider this work to be like prayer and fasting,” said Fouad Noureldine, director of projects in southern Lebanon for Construction Jihad.