The water level in towns and villages in Kherson Oblast has begun to rise rapidly following the destruction of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant.
Evacuation has been announced in the oblast, but not everyone is able to leave their homes on their own, as a video by the Ukrainian Witness project shows.
Employees of the State Emergency Service, the National Police and volunteers spent the whole night rescuing civilians. They went from house to house, up to their waists in cold water, persuading people to leave the flooded buildings.
“In one house there’s a man of about 50, a cancer patient,” says Andrii, a platoon commander in the patrol police department. “We didn’t dare move him because we aren’t professional medics. We’ll call an ambulance now so that doctors can see whether he can be moved.”
Andrii enters the courtyard and makes his way through a body of water, which is already above his knees. A woman opens the door. This is Tamara Mikhaylivna. The police officer wants to evacuate her, but she refuses: her son is ill and bedridden.
|Screenshot from the video|
From the way the law enforcement officer reacts, it’s clear there is a stench in the house. Empty plastic bottles float around the room in the water.
The residents of the flooded house are promised that they will be evacuated by the following morning. On the way back, the police officers free a dog from a trap: he has got bogged down among the wooden beams of a building or barn.
A few minutes later, however, a doctor arrives. The water level is now up to people’s lower backs, and shelling can be heard in the background. The man is examined by the doctor, who says the patient can be moved and evacuated.
“But I won’t let him go anywhere,” says Tamara Mikhaylivna.
“You’re going with him,” the doctor says insistently.
The man is carried out on a stretcher, and a group of police officers help Tamara Mikhaylivna leave her flooded house.
Next to be evacuated are a woman named Halyna, who was sitting on the roof of her house, her son and their dog. Halyna says she’s not going anywhere because there is nowhere to go.
However, rescue workers persuade her to get down from the roof and into the National Police car to be evacuated.
The kennel is almost completely under water. Halyna holds a single plastic bag; the rest of her things are still in the house.
“The little ones are still there,” she says.
She means their cats and dogs, her adult son explains.
|Halyna on the roof of her house|
“That’s how we lived, we never did anyone any harm, until they came…” the man comments in despair as he approaches the house. The water level continues to rise.
On the roof, rescue workers find Rosa, a white cat, and a bundle of kittens: Vasya, Felix and Matilda.
The man goes back into the house to show us the aftermath of the flooding. All the carpets are floating in the yard, and in the house, the water level has reached the folding beds.
As another cat is rescued, the owner carefully takes a towel out of a cupboard, holding the rest. He wraps the cat in the towel, apologising that they lived in such poverty.
He adds that the water rose from ankle to knee level within an hour.
On the morning of 6 June, Ukraine’s Operational Command Pivden (South) reported that Russian occupation forces had blown up the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant (HPP). Evacuation was announced in a number of settlements of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia Oblasts. Animal rights activists have also asked people not to leave their animals and to help them escape.