Heavy Rain Adds to Misery in Flooded Cherson

news 12-Jun-2023 Europe

The city of Cherson, already devastated by the breakage of the Kachowka dam, is now hit hard by heavy rain. Nevertheless, volunteer helpers remain undeterred. Grey skies and pouring rain greet a small blue delivery van from Kyiv as it unloads humanitarian aid, including bed sheets and towels. Volunteers carry everything into the basement of a building in the center of the city. A tired and stressed Wolodja stands at the entrance smoking a cigarette, with deep circles under his eyes.

Water Levels Continue to Fall Despite Rain

With water levels still receding, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry reports that more than 40 localities remain flooded, 14 of them on the Russian-occupied left bank. On the right bank controlled by Ukraine, some 2,700 people, including 190 children, have been evacuated. Five people have died, and among the 35 missing are seven children. According to the Cherson regional military administration, the water levels continue to fall. Out of almost 140 square kilometers, approximately 78 remain flooded. Wolodja updates that the water in Biloserka is now receding as well. Nevertheless, it offers little comfort for the moment. Wolodja himself must now figure out how to move forward with his daughter while his wife and grandchild are overseas.

Volunteers Deliver Much-Needed Aid

In the basement, Oksana Pohomi stands amidst large stacks of bags and boxes containing canned sauerkraut, pasta, sanitary napkins, toys, water bottles, and rubber boots. The determined woman with vibrant red hair wears comfortable black cotton clothing and directs volunteers hauling the humanitarian aid upstairs. "We did not survive Russian occupation to sit around now," she avers confidently. "A priest brought us all his flour for our bakery, and we shared the bread. We can help the people who are here now. I am most concerned about those on the left, Russian-occupied bank. It's a great pain when friends are there."

Psychological Help Needed

A volunteer and regional deputy of the "European Solidarity" party of former President Petro Poroshenko, Oksana Pohomi expresses sorrow over those who now lost everything they have worked their whole lives to build. Many people took only what they were wearing and brought their dogs and cats. "We need to consider psychological help," she says.

Meanwhile, the water level in the Kachowka reservoir is dropping. The reduced water supply could negatively impact drinking water and cooling the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Next week, Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, will visit the Russian-occupied plant.

Army Confirms Advance

In Eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian army has confirmed advances in a video that shows Ukrainian soldiers hoisting the yellow and blue flag in the village of Blahodatne in the Donetsk region of Donbas.

Son Kidnapped to Russia

Amongst the volunteers in Cherson is Serhii Offizerov, who helps with carrying aid. During the Russian occupation of the area, his son, along with others, was kidnapped and taken to Russia. His son was found guilty of "terrorism" and remains in the custody of the FSB, the Russian secret service, at the Lefortovo prison in Moscow since October. In a worried voice, Serhii explains, "As if everything was not already bad enough."

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