The flood caused by the rupture of the Nova Kakhovka dam engulfed entire villages, towns, agricultural lands and large parts of the city of Kherson in southern Ukraine.
We watched the waters rise and rise inward Kherson city – to sweep debris, branches, tires and anything else in its path.
Residents scrambled to safely leave their flooded homes, sometimes just grabbing pets and important documents and very little else.
Tamara, 87, struggled out of a taxi parked along one of the city’s main streets in search of her cats.
“My children, my children,” she cried. “I have to find my babies.”
The cat was handed over from her apartment window to a relative who was helping her save her pets. But the cat, clearly terrified, clawed, bit and scratched its handler before jumping to the ground and bounding into the street.
“He’ll be fine,” Tamara said resignedly. He thinks his neighbor will keep his cat.
“Of course I’m worried,” he told us, “I’m worried four times. Who would do this to people and our animals?”
The residents of Kherson have seen it all.
They were among the first cities to be invaded and occupied by the Russian military, and after the Ukrainians retook it last November, they have been regularly bombed and shelled ever since.
And now this; The deliberate destruction of the Nova Kakhovka Dam and the Kakhovka Hydropower Plant, which millions of people rely on for drinking water.
In Ukraine, the flooding of dams will continue to increase “until morning”.
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However, most residents we spoke to seemed unfazed and fairly confident they could survive a little flooding.
Elena told us as she looked out over the flooded backyard slowly rising to her front porch. that, the flood is not so bad.
“So… we’re just trying to be safe.”
What a life. when you weigh your daily safety and chances of survival between bombings and floods.
“Environmental bomb of mass destruction”
Ukrainians wasted no time hitting social media platforms and accusing the Russians of destroying the dam.
Ukraine’s president and fellow politicians, including the country’s foreign minister, called for an immediate UN Security Council meeting to discuss the dam explosion.
president Vladimir Zelensky described it as “ecocide” and said it was an “environmental bomb of mass destruction”.
He pressed once more NATO inclusion to ensure the country’s security in the future and insisted that it would not detract from their goal of returning all the territory that Russia had seized through the war.
“We will still liberate all our land,” he said in his night message.
Russia claims it is not responsible
Dozens of towns and villages in the Russian-controlled Kherson region across the Dnieper River are also underwater, and Russian officials have played down the aftermath of the dam explosion, claiming no responsibility.
RussiaThe Investigative Committee said it had opened a criminal investigation into the explosion of a dam in the Russian-controlled Kherson region in the first few weeks of the war.
Floodwaters are expected to continue to rise overnight and peak in the morning, then remain at those levels for four to five days before receding.
Crowds of volunteers began arriving in the city of Kherson by evening to help with the growing need to evacuate homes, as well as the increasing number of drugs sloshing through the city’s streets and stagnating in basements and fields.