“We have survived everything so far, but now our homes are flooded”

Hungarian Interchurch Aid is supporting the people of the settlements flooded by the Nova Kakhovka dam explosion with successive aid operations. Thanks to its constant presence in the region since its liberation in November last year, HIA has been able to respond immediately to the needs that have arisen following the catastrophe. The first aid consignment of food and hygiene products arrived in Kherson on Friday, 9 June. At the same time, HIA also started developing plans for future action, supporting efforts of local authorities with the donation of water pumps and electric generators.

The first aid consignment – 350 emergency aid kits funded by the Ukraine Humanitarian Fund – was delivered to households in the Kherson Oblast with the help of volunteers and staff of HIA’s local partner organisation. These kits arrived at the best possible moment for Kherson residents, just as they were forced to evacuate to escape the rising waters of the Dnipro.

Another, very difficult day is over for Khersonians. We are one day after the explosion at the Nova Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant, evacuation of the population living in areas in danger of flooding is ongoing, and HIA’s team is assessing damages. The humanitarians have talked to many of the people in need, who have expressed their hopes that rising water levels will finally stop at some point, and the situation will stabilise. Residents of the Ostriv neighbourhood were also eager to tell how their homes were by now submerged by the Dnipro river, putting them in an even worse situation than they were before.

Valentyna Ivanovna’s home was also flooded following the explosion of the Nova Kakhovka dam. She could hardly contain her emotions while talking about her family’s fate, bursting into tears as she told their story. “I haven’t left my home since war started on 24 February last year. We were bombed – everyone was shocked that I stayed behind and did not want to flee. We survived the winter, even though gas and water utilities were only repaired by New Year, and heating was turned on only in February. It is difficult to describe these living conditions in words. We have survived everything so far, but now our homes are flooded, and these floods have broken me, too. The kids were ready to go by ten in the morning, telling me, Mom, let’s go – but it still took some convincing for me to agree to leave Ostriv.”

She had to flee her home, but according to her, her heart was left there. “I long to return home, even one week is a long time. Up until now, I survived the whole war here on our beautiful Island, only leaving now. My friends were able to host me for the time being. I’m very thankful for the help of Hungarian Interchurch Aid, for the package I’ve received. It consists of things that are especially important under current circumstances, like a first aid kit. I just hope to return as soon as possible.”

Does Valentyna know people who are still there? “Not everyone has left. Those, who have animals and pets have mostly stayed – I don’t know how they are right now. I feel really sorry for my neighbours who stayed. They call us, asking what’s the word around here, when will all of this end – but I can’t tell them anything. In the four apartment blocks I think only 37 residents have stayed behind. I’m 57, they are all above 65. We [evacuees] are trying to send them humanitarian aid, but it’s difficult, no one wants to go to Ostriv right now. I firmly believe that I will be able to return soon and this whole disaster will be over.”

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