Riny: ‘We have been in survival mode since the flood’

Water damage due to flooding in Geulle: the oak floor is peeling. July 2021.

Riny Lemmens

“I’ve never experienced anything like this in my entire life, other than loved ones dying. The smell of that water is not normal. All the drowned worms and mice are stinking in the sun. With every rain shower they become soft again. That is an unprecedented experience.” The water stood in Riny’s house for four days. “I have lost everything under a meter. I already wanted to ‘de-clutter’, but would rather have been in control myself. There was a little book floating through my house, ‘Clean up before you die’. I now realize how little I need.”

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When the water receded, the household effects of Riny’s street were disposed of in containers in two days with a grab. She tries to get compensation from her insurer for the damage, but that is disappointing. “I like old stuff and only buy something new when the old one is broken. I had cabinets that were over a century old, a settee of twenty years and a thick oak floor that could last at least another 75 years. And most insurers only reimburse what is less than 10 years old. I don’t think that’s sustainable.”

Survival Mode

Six months later, a contractor starts the repair work. It was not possible earlier, because ‘all of Limburg is under construction’, according to Riny. In the first weeks after the flood, she stayed in the houses of her two children, who were on holiday. She now lives in a Landal holiday home. Her own house is still a mess. “The stucco has been chopped off to the ceiling, the electricity hasn’t worked for months. They still pour water from the pipes when they replace the electricity.”

“There was a little book floating through my house, ‘Clean up before you die’.”

Riny Lemmens

In addition to the damage to home and hearth, there is immaterial damage. “We have been in survival mode since the flood. We’ve been sick of wandering around the house at night because we were dreaming. You worry about who is with you. I was unable to receive my grandchild and family in my own home for months. After forty years of work, we wanted to enjoy our old age. We do, but the Zwitserleven feeling is far away.” Before corona, Riny and her boyfriend visited his son in New Zealand. “I have no flying shame. I have always lived frugally, flew very little. I’m not flying to Milan to shop. But I’m not going to stop visiting family and seeing some of the world.”

The flood makes one thing clear to Riny: “The Netherlands is far from being prepared for these kinds of disasters. I think things will go wrong for once. If everything revolves around money, we don’t have a bright future. Well-being is more important than prosperity.” Despite the concerns, she remains positive. “As long as we feel healthy and the people around us are healthy, we’ll be fine, despite everything. We are able to carry it together.”

Source: Kennislink by www.nemokennislink.nl.

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