The Agony and Reality of Resident’s Plan to Stop Russian Army by Destroying the Dam | FRIDAY DIGITAL

The Agony and Reality of Resident’s Plan to Stop Russian Army by Destroying the Dam

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Sasha and his own car with a handwritten red cross symbol (image courtesy of Sasha)
Three months have passed since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine. The Russian army has been struggling in many areas due to unexpected counterattacks.Perhaps the biggest miscalculation for President Vladimir Putin was the withdrawal from the capital city of Kyiv, which he initially assumed he would be able to control in a few days. There is a small village that has halted the advance of Russian troops. It is Demydiv, about 40 km north of Kyiv. In order to stop the Russians, the Ukrainian army resorted to a bizarre maneuver by breaching the embankment of a dam near the village and releasing a large volume of water. The surrounding countryside became a quagmire, and many homes were submerged. This made it impossible for Russian tanks and supply convoy vehicles to advance.

Sasha, a resident of Demydiv, describes the suffering and reality of the residents.

This village is located on the shortest route for the Russian army to Kyiv. We deliberately broke the dike and flooded this village to protect Kyiv from the Russians. On the other hand, the damage was severe. In some places, the water level was up to 2 meters high. Of the approximately 750 houses in the village, about 70 were damaged by the flood.”

Rolling up his pants in front of the bridge

When the water level is low, they build hastily constructed bridges with planks.

Immediately after the Russian invasion, they also destroyed the river bridge leading to Kyiv.

“The bridge is also the only evacuation route leading from the north to Kyiv. People from neighboring villages and Chornobyl were fleeing in droves to Demydiv. Those seeking refuge in Kyiv roll up their pants when they come to the broken bridge.

Healthy adults cross to the other side of the river by entering the still-cold melting snow. For children and disabled adults, we made simple stretchers and helped everyone cross the river. When the water level was low, we built a hastily constructed bridge by combining planks to allow evacuees to pass through.”

When the water level was too high to cross to the other side of the river, the village sheltered the evacuees, once hosting more than 70 people in the community center.

“We provided hot meals and clothes every day, and heated the community center with electricity generated by a generator. I think the evacuees were able to spend their time comfortably. In other places there was a lack of food, clothing, and other supplies, but in this village we had everything. Even baby food and diapers. Even though we had hand-painted red crosses on our cars, we were under heavy bombardment every day as we struggled to carry relief supplies. Thanks to that, our car was wrecked.”

Not that there were no human casualties.

“The Russians came to this village and several people were killed or wounded. Some people had their things stolen and their houses destroyed by shelling. But the flooding was so bad that the Russians quickly gave up trying to stay in the village and moved on to Bucha and Makariv in the suburbs. Most of the villagers are safe, but many have friends and relatives in Bucha and other places. Some of them were killed, which is very heartbreaking.”

The Russian army has withdrawn from the area. However, Sasha and the other villagers still have many reconstruction issues to deal with, such as road and house repairs and drainage.

“We obtained five motor pumps in the village. The cost of fuel has gone up, so it is expensive, but they are very useful for drainage work. More than two months after the dike was breached, the village is still flooded. Some residents lament that their houses are flooded and they can no longer plant crops in their fields. But I am thankful to God. The Russian invasion was stopped and the villagers were able to survive. I am truly grateful.”

A volunteer’s car, battered by Russian shelling
People evacuating from northern Ukraine to Khiu
Those who could not cross the river were temporarily evacuated to the village
Sasha carrying relief supplies
Pumps used for drainage work
A flooded area where the water level has risen
  • Photo Courtesy of Sasha

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