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’Our house was carried away’ — flood survivors in Russian

Jan 06, 2024Jan 06, 2024

HOLA PRYSTAN, Ukraine: Pensioner Maria Mikhailovna says she was woken by her husband in the middle of the night to find their belongings underwater after the collapse of Ukraine's giant Nova Kakhovka Dam."The water in the house was at waist level. At midnight everything had been dry — both inside and outside," said the 73-year-old, who walks slowly with the help of a stick."We can hardly walk. We went outside and were lucky that there were passers-by. They helped us to get to the ‘Vostok’ shop. Then we limped on to our friends," she told Reuters.With water snapping at their heels, she and her husband then moved on from place to place, she said in the town of Hola Prystan in Ukraine's southern Kherson region, adding that she was grateful to her rescuers.They were brought to safety with other pensioners on Thursday in a rubber boat crewed by rescuers from Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry.Russian forces took control of Hola Prystan, a town where around 13,000 people once lived, last year as part of what Moscow calls its "special military operation."After the vast Soviet-era Kakhovka Dam crumbled on Tuesday — a human and ecological disaster which Russia and Ukraine have blamed on each other — rubber dinghies have replaced cars in the town's streets.Animals and people sheltered on roofs on Thursday: in one surreal scene a small group of goats and hens stood on what looked like part of a roof surrounded by floodwater as rescuers in dinghies passed by.The first one or two storys of houses and people's yards were underwater and an emerald green church was semi-submerged, with the tops of trees poking out from the water in places.Rescuers in boats scoured the town for survivors, shouting out the addresses they had checked to one another.Many of those rescued appeared elderly but small children and their mothers were also among those helped to safety.One woman had her pet cat in their bag and one elderly lady clutched a birdcage as she was ferried to dry land.A woman who gave her name as Oksana held back tears as she and her daughter were evacuated in a boat with their two pet dogs."We ended up at the kindergarten because our house was carried away by a torrent of water," said Oksana, as her daughter turned her head away to sob.