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“The Occupier Adds More Work”

Emergency services workers in Kherson have to deal with the consequences of Russian shelling every day. They board up the windows and patch holes in the roofs. Our journalists talked to one of these teams.

Kherson municipal emergency rescue service moves the wall. “Everything here has melted. There’s a [gas] water heater here. I don’t know how it hasn’t exploded yet,” says local resident Anastasia, showing what’s left of her apartment.

The reason for all this is the Russian missile and bomb attack. In this multi-storey building, a shell flew straight into the apartment.

“My mother and stepfather were here that night. They slept here. The wall fell on our apartment, a fire started and spread to us,” says Anastasia.

At this time, two women were in the neighboring apartment. “It turns out that Aunt Natasha and her mother lived there, she is 91 years old. The wall fell right on her when there was this explosion. Her daughter could not save her. There was such a fire. She says: “I don’t know how I got out myself.” “Her front door was knocked out by a wave, at that moment she ran out and already realized that she could not save her mother. And, unfortunately, this woman, grandmother, died,” the woman continues.

Anastasia’s parents, blocked by fire in the corridor, ran out onto the balcony. “Thank God they were saved. The firefighters arrived with a ladder and were already reaching down from the balcony. This is the Russian world we have,” says Anastasia.

The process of emergency work is controlled by Vladimir and Valery. But they are called to another address. There was also a hit there the day before. Rescuers take out plywood and prepare to board up the windows. According to Vladimir, they have already done this here recently.

“There are such things when we have repaired, and then they fly back again. We go back and repair on the same roof. This often happens. The occupier adds more and more work to us every time,” notes Vladimir, deputy head of the Kherson emergency rescue service Cyctor.

We arrived at another address. There was a hit here before, it went through the roof, it needs to be repaired. Due to precipitation, melt water flows from the ceiling. And the plaster is crumbling.

“We are repairing the roof after our arrival, now we still need to extend the tarpaulin, in this weather. Well, we are working because we need to ensure that nothing leaks in people’s homes, that their apartments are somehow preserved after all this,” says Alexey.

Maria Bilenka, who lives in this house, says that during the Russian shelling she was saved by her cat, which began to scream very loudly after the first explosion. “I say: “Why are you shouting? Alice, don’t shout, I’ll put on a robe and run away faster.” Well, I’m faster, I held her in my arms, while I opened the doors, glass flew behind me. And they shot at this house seven times.”

Windows broken by shrapnel in apartment buildings have become a problem for Kherson.

“The residents of the apartment have left. Rain and snow fall into the apartment, flooding the lower floor. Using an aerial platform, rescuers will board up the window so that people can still live,” explains the commander of the rescue platoon, Valery Platonov.

With Vladimir and Valery we returned to the first address. The work there is coming to an end. We had to move the ventilation shaft to get gas and heating back on.

“My mother tells me: ‘Daughter, if it weren’t for the wall, I would have started doing the renovations here myself.’ My mother is such a strong woman,” says Anastasia.

She says that she would like to return home and restore everything: “I say: “Mom, let me try, maybe it will wash off.” Nothing, it will wash off. So, if anything happens, we’ll wash it off here. We’ll come back someday. I believe in it.” .

But for now this is impossible due to the hanging wall and a huge hole in the floor in the neighboring apartment. “A question for the aggressor who is on our land, because he does not spare anyone. It makes no difference to him who it is, a 90-year-old grandmother who died in this house, or a child. He is at war with the population of our state,” Vladimir is indignant Cyctor.

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