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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Kherson, Where War Survivors Must Now Escape The Flood

The evacuation of residents from flood-affected localities continues after the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam. Evacuees report that they have been bombarded by Russian missiles and fear the presence of mines in the water.

Photo of a woman after the destruction of the Nova Kakhovak dam.

A woman is seen during the aftermath of the destruction of the Nova Kakhovak dam.

Yevhen Buderatsky and Yevhen Rudenko and Yana Osadcha

KHERSON — “Finally, dry land...” The words were repeated by multiple evacuees forced to leave their homes over the past 48 hours in the wake of the explosion that destroyed the Nova Kakhovka dam.

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For the residents of Kherson and the surrounding area, the past 15 months have included a Russian occupation, Ukrainian liberation, and frequent artillery shelling. But on Tuesday, they woke up to a different kind of test of their survival skills.

The major breach of the dam flooded the settlements near the Dnipro river, forcing thousands to evacuate. The floodwaters have even submerged the low-lying districts of Kherson, the major city in the area, where levels have been known in the past to rise to the second or third floors of apartment buildings.

But now, the flooding is bound to be both more severe, and more widespread. In certain areas, the only mean of transport is by boat.

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.

Water everywhere

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.”

Rescue teams after the destruction of the dam.


Noah's Ark

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.

Aftermath of the destruction of Nova Kakhovak dam.


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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Not Your Grandma's Nonna: How Older Women In Italy Are Reclaiming Their Age

Women in Italy are living longer than ever. But severe economic and social inequality and loneliness mean that they urgently need a new model for community living – one that replaces the "one person, one house, one caregiver" narrative we have grown accustomed to.

Not Your Grandma's Nonna: How Older Women In Italy Are Reclaiming Their Age

Italy is home to many elderly people and few young ones.

Barbara Leda Kenny

ROMENina Ercolani is the oldest person in Italy. She is 112 years old. According to newspaper interviews, she enjoys eating sweets and yogurt. Mrs. Nina is not alone: over the past three years, there has been an exponential growth in the number of centenarians in Italy. With over 20,000 people who've surpassed the age of 100, Italy is in fact the country with the highest number of centenarians in Europe.

Life expectancy at the national level is already high. Experts say it can be even higher for those who cultivate their own gardens, live away from major sources of pollution, and preferably in small towns near the sea. Years of sunsets and tomatoes with a view of the sea – it used to be a romantic fantasy but is now becoming increasingly plausible.

Centenarians occupy the forefront of a transformation taking place in a country where living a long life means being among the oldest of the old. Italy is the second oldest country in the world, and it ranks first in the number of people over eighty. In simple terms, this means that Italy is home to many elderly people and few young ones: those over 65 make up almost one in four, while children (under 14) account for just over one in 10. The elderly population will continue to grow in the coming years, as the baby boomer generation, born between 1961 and 1976, is the country's largest age group.

But there is one important data set to consider when discussing our demographics: in general, women make up a slight majority of the population, but from the age of sixty onwards, the gap progressively widens. Every single Italian over 110 years old is a woman.

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