“We will survive these difficult times”

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.

Svetlana Pavlivna lives in the Kherson district that was completely flooded by the rising water, transforming roads into waterway for boats leading the rescue. She has fled to her relatives in a district upstream – while there it’s also flooded, the situation is much better than in Ostriv, where her home is. 

“In our district, water is all around the houses. No electricity, no drinking water, no gas. Shops are flooded as well. Everything happened in a very short time. Our apartment is on the 5th floor, so the water didn’t reach us directly, but it has blocked all normal exits, trapping us inside. People can only leave their homes on boats. A volunteer, Olha helped me get out of the flooded part of the city and took me to my relatives.”

Her thoughts are with her son and her neighbours. “My son decided to stay in our flat until water levels normalise. I’ve left him some food that can be eaten cold as well. I hope he won’t be hungry and that I can return in a week. Water’s still rising, but sooner or later it will go away. My son just has to wait this out now. There are three people who decided to stay in our apartment building. One of them had a stroke and is unable to move, the others have refused to evacuate. They said they would wait for the whole thing to be over in their own homes.”

Even now that she has been evacuated, she thinks she can help others. “Despite my age – I’m 75 – I try to help people from home. I called everyone I could, and the volunteers were able to evacuate five women from the town centre’s entrance to a private house which was not yet flooded. They were sheltered by compassionate, nice people. You see, in this terrible situation, Khersonians are able to move in with relatives, into dormitories or empty houses provided free of charge by their owners.”

She’s not without help, either. “I received an aid package from Hungarian Interhurch Aid – it came at a time of great need, perhaps at the best moment. I’m just sad that I couldn’t leave my son the powerbank and the flashlight that came in the package, he could have used it better than I could. I will send them to him as soon as I can, he needs them more, staying in our flooded apartment building. Our district was hit hard, we are being bombarded and now they have also flooded us. But I believe we will survive these difficult times and the day of victory will come.”

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