By Juli McDonald

METHUEN (CBS) – A Massachusetts family feels mounting desperation for help finding a relative trapped in the rubble from the explosion in Beirut Tuesday.

“I got the news before I saw the explosion. It was really hard then to see the explosion after being so personally connected to it. Just didn’t seem real. How do you help from thousands of miles away when you can’t move rubble away?” said Rita Griep.

Joe Andoun is a security officer who works at the Lebanese port where the initial fire began. (Courtesy photo)

Rita’s sister, Michelle Andoun from Methuen, is married to a security officer who works at the Lebanese port where the initial fire began. The couple has two young daughters.

“Two times his phone answered. The first time for 21 seconds, the second time for 43 seconds,” Griep explained.

Loved ones in the U.S. are raising money for the family from afar and doing what they can to gain attention for Joe Andoun.

“Joe is not a U.S. citizen. He was in the process of being one, but his wife and kids are. On their behalf, we’d like the U.S. to get involved. The more hands the better,” Griep said.

They’re worried he’s hurt and hungry but clinging to small miracles like his phone picking up.

“He’s a very humble and nurturing father and person,” said cousin Fadia Chahine in Methuen.

“There are so many people behind us praying right now. I truly believe in the power of that. We’re holding onto hope and believing he’s alive,” Griep said.

Juli McDonald

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