By Alexis Veenendaal
Some residents in the town of Overschild watch with mixed feelings as their damaged homes are demolished to make way for new ones. After fracking within the Province of Groningen caused a number of earthquakes, most homes in the town were damaged. Now, over two hundred must be fortified, and others will need to be demolished and replaced.
This has been a long and difficult process for the residents of Overschild, and while most have avoided speaking to the press, Jack Mulder is one who mourns the loss of his family home. “We’ve known it would happen for two years, but it certainly does something. It is of course not just about the houses themselves. It is intense, especially mentally” says Mulder.
One resident, Harm Jan de Vries, has been through endless discussions with contractors, the gas extraction company NAM, and the judge, and was still unable to come to an agreement.
Eventually, De Vries was told that his house would need to be fortified, a renovation that would cost upward of 600,000 euros. Since the cost is more than the value of the house, it is eligible for demolition and new construction. However, De Vries’ home is not at the top of the list of most unsafe homes, so he must wait.
De Vries and Mulder are not alone in their worries about the town. They fear that if the gas extraction ends after two years, most residents will move away and their homes will not be replaced.
President Derwin Schorren of the Groningen Soil Movement (GBB) says, “about 200,000 people have damage to their homes; 100,000 of them are multiple damage. Of the promised reinforcements of 26,000 homes, only a fraction has been realized: 1,000. In contrast, many thousands of people still don’t know if their home is safe enough, and if not, whether their house will be fortified”.
For the residents of Overschild, there are still more difficult times ahead.