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Humanitarian Groups in Ukraine Respond to Flooding from Dam Explosion


Ukraine Relief

Boats evacuate local residents from a flooded area in Kherson on June 7, 2023, following widespread flooding caused by damage to the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant dam. Ukraine was evacuating thousands of people on June 7, 2023 after an attack on a major Russian-held dam on June 6, 2023, unleashed a torrent of water, inundating two dozen villages and sparking fears of a humanitarian and environmental disaster. (Photo by Oleksandr GIMANOV / AFP) (Photo by OLEKSANDR GIMANOV/AFP via Getty Images)

ODESA, UKRAINE — Ukrainian civil defense authorities and Direct Relief-supported groups in the war-torn country raced to respond after yesterday’s destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam in the Russian-occupied south.

Waters reportedly rose as much as 10 feet above normal levels in parts of the Kherson region, prompting a massive exodus of people.

“We are sending the basic goods [for survivors],” said Natalya, chief coordinator at the Odesa-based NGO Hospitable Hut, which since last summer, has supplied thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and vulnerable people with essential medical and hygiene items.

“But we don’t just hand out things, we assess the situation, which people need what exactly. There will also be a much greater need [for assistance] in Odesa as IDPs start to arrive from [flood-] affected areas. They will need everything – food, bedding, clothing, cooking utensils.”

The organization estimates that some 4,000-5,000 people fleeing from the highwaters will soon arrive in the Odesa region, 200km west of Kherson.

A call for material donations announced on June 6 drew a massive response, said social media manager Oksana: “Two hours after we opened the next day, we could barely move for donations.”

Hospitable Hut will deliver the donations with the support of other Ukrainian and international NGOs.

As the Russians and Ukrainians trade accusations about who was behind the explosion of the dam, which supplied water across the southern region, including Russian-held Crimea, the scale of the devastation is becoming apparent.

Entire villages in the Kherson region are reportedly submerged, with volunteers struggling to reach civilians trapped by flooding and across battle lines.

The region was seized in the initial Russian invasion of February 24, 2022. However, large areas were liberated in the Ukrainian counter-offensive last November. On the western bank of the Dnieper River, Kherson remains under daily shelling by Moscow’s military.

On Wednesday, authorities and humanitarian organizations were moving to evacuate thousands of people from flood-affected areas and supply the remaining population in Kherson with essentials. The neighboring region of Mykolaiv, retaken by Ukrainian government forces, was also suffering from the effects of the flooding.

Editor’s note: Since the war began, Direct Relief has deployed more than 1,400 tons, 271 million defined daily doses and $930 million in material aid assistance to Ukraine.

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