Windsor's Ali Roumie said his "heart dropped" when the call he made to his mom, who is visiting Lebanon, went unanswered following Tuesday's port explosion.
He's one of many in the region, anxious to reach family after an explosion Tuesday, which is said to have been caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored at Beirut's port, killed at least 135 people and left more than 5,000 injured.
"Those five minutes between her calling me back did drop my heart, I won't lie," said Roumie, confirming that his mom and other family members are all well and accounted for.
According to Statistics Canada's 2016 census, more than 10,000 are of Lebanese ethnic origin in the Windsor area.
At this time, the Lebanese government said it is putting an unspecified number of the city's port officials under house arrest pending an investigation. The move comes amid speculation that negligence was to blame for the blast.
Roumie said he first saw the explosion on social media.
"At first I look at the video [of the explosion] and I was like 'there's no way this is real, this looks fake," he said, adding that he's "never seen something happen like this in the world ever."
As soon as he realized what he was seeing was real, Roumie called his mom, who he had brought to the airport last week so that she could fly to Lebanon.
Once they connected, she said everyone was okay, but the blast had shattered the windows of their home.
"It's ridiculous...my prayers go out to them and I hope everything is good," Roumie said.
'It was absolutely one of the scariest days'
For Edy Haddad, a Windsor resident who was born in Beirut and has family living there, Tuesday's explosion was "absolutely horrifying."
"I started praying, I didn't know what else to do," Haddad said when he first saw videos of the tragedy, which he thought looked like "the apocalypse."
"We didn't know what was happening, we couldn't contact anybody, we didn't have everybody accounted for," he said. "It was absolutely one of the scariest days I've ever had."
He said some of his uncles were hurt in the accident and that his family experienced property damage.
To help the local community cope with what has happened, Haddad scheduled a candlelight vigil for Friday at 7 p.m. by the peace monument near Ouellette Avenue and Riverside Drive.
"Let us come together in prayer to honour those who have lost their lives and were injured in Tuesday's explosion. Let us pray for peace in Lebanon," reads a post on the Facebook event page.
The event page also says that anyone is welcome to join and should bring masks, candles and keep physical distance.
Windsor's St. Peter's Maronite Catholic Church released a statement Wednesday saying "Our hearts are so heavy and filled with sadness watching the devastating news from Lebanon."
The church says it is the first and only Lebanese church in the region.
"We have parishioners who have family members who lost their homes in Beirut and were also wounded. There are still people missing and the rescue and search times are still trying to locate them," the statement said.
The church is holding a mass for the victims and wounded on Thursday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 11:30 a.m.