Sunday night Hazem came home at 2am after a night out. Three hours later, he heard banging on the door. “Before I could open the door, it was breached by firemen”, he says. “There I was, standing in the hall, still half asleep.” He lives in a three-room apartment on 1e Middellandstraat, above a jewelry store, with a roommate – also an EUR student. Along with his roommate and the residents of three other properties, Hazem was evacuated.

Hazem walked past his house on Thursday. Image credit: Own photo

Once outside, he was told that a neighbour called the emergency line because she heard a loud bang in the building next to Hazem’s apartment. He was aware that that building was being renovated, because its foundation had to be repaired. “When the construction workers were busy with a drill, my apartment would literally shake”, he says. “This caused cracks to appear in our wall.” Hazem had previously been in contact with the municipality and the building contractor about the cracks. “The construction workers had come by, but they said the cracks had been there longer and had nothing to do with the construction works”, he says.


The evacuated residents waited outside for hours that Sunday morning. “I was lucky to have grabbed a coat during the evacuation because it was cold”, he tells. Soon after the evacuation, a mobile shack arrived for the residents and aid workers. “That was nice because we could have a drink there and warm ourselves up.” Later, they learned that their homes wouldn’t be inaccessible for a while. “We were allowed to, one by one, pick up stuff from our house. I quickly grabbed my laptop, books, some clothes and my guitar. At least then I can play guitar when I’m bored.”

Hazem was offered a place in a communal shelter by the municipality. They were welcome to sleep in a sport hall if they couldn’t arrange a place to sleep for themselves. Fortunately, he was able to stay with a friend in Kralingen. “The first two days it still felt like an adventure. But now I’m fed up, it’s not nice not having your own space where you can do whatever you want. I now stay with different friends and live out of my backpack.”


Hazem doesn’t know how long the facade repairs will take, but he has an agreement with his landlord: if he still can’t get into his house by Sunday, his landlord will arrange an airbnb or other accommodation for him. “Fortunately, my parents live in Roosendaal, so I could still commute to campus if I have to. But I really want to get back to my own house as soon as possible.”