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What the flooding is like in Kherson, Ukraine, after the Kakhovka dam breach upstream


The destruction of the Kakhovka Dam in southern Ukraine has added another struggle to the daily lives of people in Kherson. The city, downriver from the dam, is now seeing widespread flooding in addition to near-constant shelling by Russian troops. Today, one of our producers spoke to Olena Nikolova. She's a journalist in Kherson.

OLENA NIKOLOVA: As we know, approximately one-third of the city is flooded. And these are mainly lowlands in the southern part of Kherson and localities. One of the districts of Kherson is completely flooded. In Kherson, there are no panic at all. People are - just keep going, helping and supporting each other.

KELLY: Nikolova says, yes, the flooding is disastrous, but it is the relentless shelling that's so stressful.

NIKOLOVA: The shellings are everywhere. They may reach any district of our city, unfortunately. We can hear the sounds of the artillery strikes right now while we are talking to you. We hear from our windows. We just have to hide in the hallways while shellings are too close to our house. This is quite dangerous to come close to the windows while shellings.

KELLY: The Dnipro River runs through Ukraine, which remains in control of the western side near Kherson, while Russia occupies the eastern side.

NIKOLOVA: People here were just abandoned by the occupiers. The Russians do not provide any assistance, any help, and do not provide evacuation. People are just sitting right on the roofs of their houses, crying for help - their lack of water and food. Their telephones are on the minimal charge. They soon will not manage to call someone. And this is a real tragedy.

KELLY: And yet, Nikolova says she is so grateful to be home.

NIKOLOVA: You know, I'm happy because I'm home. After the relocation when we had to move to the city of Ternopil in the western Ukraine when Kherson was in occupation - that was one of the hardest times in my life. Ternopil is great, and people are kind. But Kherson is my hometown. I was so happy to return. Yes, it's scary here, of course. I'm not a hero from the movies.

KELLY: Nikolova returned to Kherson in December, after the liberation of the city from Russian forces.

NIKOLOVA: I saw my family, my mother. When we at last reunited, it was one of the happiest days of my life. And the shellings, the flood, this madness of the war - it's nothing. The life goes on, and we here continue our work and just live. This is our duty. We must do something. We must do the best to make our victory closer and support each other.

KELLY: Journalist Olena Nikolova sharing a little of her daily life, speaking to us today from her home in Kherson. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Erika Ryan
Erika Ryan is a producer for All Things Considered. She joined NPR after spending 4 years at CNN, where she worked for various shows and CNN.com in Atlanta and Washington, D.C. Ryan began her career in journalism as a print reporter covering arts and culture. She's a graduate of the University of South Carolina, and currently lives in Washington, D.C., with her dog, Millie.
Justine Kenin
Justine Kenin is an editor on All Things Considered. She joined NPR in 1999 as an intern. Nothing makes her happier than getting a book in the right reader's hands – most especially her own.
Mary Louise Kelly is a co-host of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine.