Within two days, more than 2,000 people, primarily from the severely affected Ostriv district, were evacuated to dry land.
Amphibious vehicles, police motor boats, ordinary rubber boats of volunteers and residents... Anything that can float is used to get people, their belongings, and pets away from flooded zones.
Oleg and Serhii are some of the volunteers helping people evacuate. They have traveled to the flooded settlements by following the Dnipro, even as the left bank of the river is occupied by Russia, to save people from rooftops of submerged houses.
From the morning to the evening of June 7, they have ferried 16 residents from Kherson.
"It's quick to get to Kherson, but it's a long way back as we have to ride against the current, " says Oleg. “There is water everywhere now. Only the tops of trees and roofs are visible.”
Marina Volodymyrivna Gavrilova is one of the evacuees from the hard-hit district of Kherson. The pensioner steps on dry land with her dachshund Virgie and a cigarette in her hand.
"By the way, have we won yet?,” she asks when she gets off the boat. “I’ve been without the radio for two days.”
I realized that I could be trapped forever.
Gavrilova lost her eyesight a few years ago. She found out about the Nova Kakhovka dam breach from the news. As she was walking Virgie outside on the evening of June 6, she felt that the water was already reaching her apartment.
"By the morning the water was already at my door," she says. "I realized that I could be trapped forever."
She refused to evacuate at first, shouting from her balcony on the fourth floor that she had ten cats besides her dog Virgie and that she could not leave them behind.
"Once they promised me they would come back with cat carriers, I agreed to leave," Gavrilova says.
According to the police, hundreds of animals have been evacuated, and the events along the Dnipro are compared to the biblical story of Noah’s Ark.
Plans to return
Inna Moroz was evacuated to the non-flooded part of Kherson only on the morning of June 7.
"The rescuers give people 30 to 40 minutes to get ready. People bring their animals and get into the boats. But some choose to stay," says Inna.
The experience of sailing the Dnipro was frightening for her.
"We were sailing over a three-meter-high fence. We were also very afraid that there would be mines in the water," she says.
Despite losing her home to the flood, Inna Moroz is not planning on leaving Kherson.
"I'm not going anywhere. I have already spent 9 months in Poland, my children are there now, but I am here. Because who will rebuild Ostriv if not us?," she says, referring to the flooded Kherson district she was evacuated from. "Who will clean up the dirt when the water recedes?"
She is not the only one planning on staying in the city.
Kherson resident Olga Tsylinko helps rehabilitate children with disabilities. She lost her house to the flood but prefers to stay at a local rehabilitation center, to wait for families with children with disabilities to arrive.
“When we fled yesterday, the Russians were still shelling us. Today they also shelled Kherson, they do it every day," says Olga.
Thousands have been evacuated from the affected areas, but the scope of the disaster is still unclear.
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