AWhen he scrambles into the inner courtyard with the half-collapsed house, Fritz Jaeckel suddenly becomes a pastor. The whole day before he answered questions and explained processes, now he only listens to Lutz Henkelmann. “We are in the eighth week after the flood, and I only have access to my own property for hours,” says Henkelmann. Winter is near, so he is not making any headway. “I am massively disappointed in the city of Stolberg. I have such a neck. “
Jaeckel is the person in charge of the reconstruction in the flood areas, which is exactly where he stands, in the village of Vicht near Aachen, which belongs to Stolberg and was badly hit by the floods in July. Henkelmann works in the research and development department of the automaker Ford, his property borders directly on the river Vicht, his mother-in-law has lived here for 80 years, he has been for more than 20. That means he currently lives elsewhere, because his apartment was completely on the ground floor under water. The bigger problem for him, however, is the neighbour’s house, which is missing a whole wall and which was poorly secured with iron scaffolding and wooden stakes.
“Be a little gracious”
Jaeckel also sees at a glance that it has to be torn down. “I will definitely talk to the community,” he promises Henkelmann, who has now hired his own appraiser to refute an appraisal by the city of Stolberg on the statics of the neighboring house. Henkelmann is afraid that the house in the inner courtyard will collapse, but the neighbor doesn’t care. When Jaeckel asks whether he would be solvent enough to be able to spend 1.2 million euros times 200,000 euros for a demolition and reconstruction, Henkelmann just shrugs his shoulders and says: “No chance, the house has been two in recent years Once foreclosed. “
Jaeckel can be shown where the wall once stood next to the river and the massive garden house, which was insured but also swept away by the floods. The person opposite is visibly angry that, in addition to all the physically demanding construction work, he has to deal with appraisers and lawyers and that no one from the city wants to help him: his e-mails and calls have never been answered. “Be gracious, they haven’t experienced anything like that either,” says Jaeckel, and Henkelmann just nods tiredly.
Contact with business helps
From this Monday on, municipalities, companies, farmers and foresters as well as private individuals should be able to submit their applications for funding for the reconstruction. The Bundestag and Bundesrat approved the € 30 billion state aid last week. North Rhine-Westphalia alone accounts for 12.3 billion euros. One of Jaeckel’s main tasks these days is to explain to the mayors, hoteliers and entrepreneurs how they should structure their reconstruction.
He has experience in this: as early as 2002, the now 58-year-old lawyer was employed in the control center for the reconstruction of the Saxon State Chancellery. Even after the floods in 2013, he headed the reconstruction team in Saxony. He resigned from the state government in 2017 and returned to the West. In his main job, Jaeckel is chief executive of the North Westphalia Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Münster. Not only his experience in politics and reconstruction, but also his contact with business is helping him – and with it everyone else who has been affected by the disaster.