Kherson residents flee under fire after Kakhovka dam floods homes

Kherson residents flee under fire after Kakhovka dam floods homes

Kherson residents return to -ruined homes after dam destroyed

On June 6, 2023, a massive explosion rocked the Kakhovka dam on the Dnipro River in south Ukraine, causing a huge breach that unleashed a torrent of water into the surrounding areas. The dam was under the control of Russian forces, who have been occupying parts of Ukraine since 2014. Kyiv has accused Moscow of sabotaging the dam, while Russia has blamed Ukraine for the incident.

The flood has affected both Kyiv-controlled and Russian-occupied territories, forcing thousands of people to evacuate their homes and leaving dozens dead or injured. The water level of the Dnipro river has risen several meters, submerging villages, farms, roads and bridges. The flood has also raised concerns about an environmental disaster, as the water may have contaminated soil, crops and drinking sources.

Some of the worst-hit areas are in the Kherson region, where many residents have returned to their homes this week to assess the damage and salvage what they can. Many of them have found their houses ruined by mud, debris and mold. Furniture, appliances, clothes and personal belongings have been destroyed or washed away. Some houses have collapsed or become unsafe to live in.

One of the flood victims is Tetiana Pivneva, a 41-year-old widow and businesswoman who lived in Kherson with her two children. She was away in Odesa when the dam was destroyed and came back to find her house submerged in water. "My whole life was in this house. Now I have nothing," she said. "Words cannot describe it. I wept for several days." She is now trying to empty her house with the help of her friends, but she has little hope of rebuilding it.

Another couple, Igor and Natalia, are retired and also live in Kherson. They ignored the warnings and returned to their home to try and save what they could. But they found their house in a terrible state, with plaster falling off the walls and ceilings and mud covering everything. "We don't have the strength to rebuild, no money. I don't know what we will do," said Natalia.

The Ukrainian government has declared a state of emergency in the affected regions and promised to provide humanitarian aid and compensation to the flood victims. The international community has also expressed its solidarity and support for Ukraine, condemning Russia's aggression and calling for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

However, many people in Kherson feel abandoned and hopeless, as they face an uncertain future without their homes and livelihoods. They wonder if they will ever recover from this tragedy or if they will have to leave their land forever.

Relief efforts under fire

As the flood situation in Kherson remains critical, relief efforts have been hampered by the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia. The city is divided by the Dnipro river, with the left bank under Kyiv's control and the right bank under Moscow's occupation. The two sides have been exchanging artillery fire across the river, putting civilians and rescuers at risk.

According to local authorities, at least three people were killed and 10 injured on June 8 when a rescue boat carrying evacuees from the flooded areas was shelled by Russian forces³. The Ukrainian military said it responded by destroying several Russian positions and vehicles.

The UN's humanitarian affairs office said a team was in Kherson to coordinate relief efforts. It said access to drinking water was a significant concern and about 12,000 bottles of water and 10,000 purification tablets had been distributed so far⁴. It also said it was working with local partners to provide food, hygiene kits, blankets and tents to the affected people.

Some international aid agencies and NGOs have also launched appeals to support the flood victims in Kherson. One of them is Donorbox, which said its team was in Kherson to save people affected by the destruction of the Kakhovka dam. It said 16,000 people were within the critical flood zone and needed evacuation, aid and hope.

Zelenskiy visits flood-hit region and criticizes Russia

On June 8, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy visited the flood-hit region and criticized Russia for its role in the disaster. He said Kyiv had evidence that Moscow was behind the sabotage of the Kakhovka dam, which he called an act of terrorism and a war crime.

He also accused Russia of obstructing relief efforts and violating the ceasefire agreement signed in Minsk in 2015. He said Ukraine would not tolerate such aggression and would defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Zelenskiy promised to provide financial assistance and compensation to the flood victims and to rebuild the damaged infrastructure. He also vowed to restore the Kakhovka dam and power plant as soon as possible.

He expressed his gratitude to the international community for its solidarity and support for Ukraine, and urged more countries to join the sanctions against Russia.

He also praised the resilience and courage of the Kherson residents, who have been living under fire and armed with shovels, trying to reclaim their flooded city. He said they were an example of patriotism and dignity for all Ukrainians.

Voices from the flood zone

Despite the hardships and dangers, some Kherson residents have refused to leave their homes or have returned to them after being evacuated. They have shared their stories and feelings with the media and social media.

One of them is Olena Pshenychna, a friend of Tetiana Pivneva, whose house was flooded in the first days of the disaster. She has been helping her friend to empty her house and throw away everything that was ruined by the water and mud. She said there was nothing left to save, except for the walls. "Furniture, sofas, floors, doors, appliances -- everything is thrown away, there's nothing left. We can only save the walls... Maybe in the future, it will be possible to either sell the house or make repairs. There is nothing left," she said.

Another one is Andriy Kovalenko, a farmer who lives in a village near Kherson. He said he lost his entire harvest of wheat and sunflower due to the flood. He said he had invested a lot of money and effort into his crops, hoping for a good yield and income. But now he has nothing to feed his family or pay his debts. He said he felt hopeless and angry at the authorities for not protecting the dam or warning the people in time. "They don't care about us. They only care about their own interests and pockets. They let this happen to us. They should pay for this," he said.

A third one is Yulia Kuzmenko, a teacher who lives on the right bank of Kherson, under Russian occupation. She said she was lucky that her house was not flooded, but she still suffered from the lack of electricity, water and communication. She said she had no contact with her relatives and friends on the other side of the river, and she did not know if they were safe or not. She said she was afraid of the shelling and the Russian soldiers, who often harassed and threatened her and her neighbours. She said she wanted to leave Kherson and move to a safer place, but she had no money or documents to do so. "We are trapped here. We are living in hell. We don't know what will happen tomorrow. We just pray for peace," she said.


The destruction of the Kakhovka dam has been one of the worst disasters in Ukraine's history, affecting thousands of people in Kherson and other regions along the Dnipro river. The flood has also added more tension and violence to the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia, which has claimed over 14,000 lives since 2014.

The people of Kherson have shown remarkable courage and resilience in the face of this tragedy, but they also need urgent help and support from their government and the international community. They also need a lasting solution to end the war and restore their security and dignity.

The fate of Kherson is not only a humanitarian issue, but also a geopolitical one. It is a test for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as for Europe's stability and values. The world cannot afford to ignore or abandon Kherson.


(2) Russia-Ukraine war live updates: Kherson residents return to flood-ruined homes after dam destroyed.
(4) Kherson residents return to flood-ruined homes after dam destroyed.


How many people died in dam Ukraine?

Ukrainian officials have put the official death toll at 21, including five people who died from what they described as Russian shelling during evacuation operations.

Why is it flooded in Ukraine?

The destruction earlier this month of the Soviet-era dam and hydroelectric plant in an area reportedly under Russian control since its invasion in 2022, has caused widespread flooding across southern Ukraine, washing away homes, destroying sanitation and sewage systems and crippling water supplies.

How many Russians died in Crimea?

Total casualties Breakdown Casualties Time period Russian forces (PMC Wagner) 20,000 killed 24 February 2022 – 24 May 2023 Russian forces (PMCs Wagner, Redut & others) 6,574 killed (confirmed by names) 24 February 2022 – 12 June 2023 Russian forces (Donetsk & Luhansk PR) 10,000+ killed 24 February 2022 – 9 June 2023

How many bodies of water are in Ukraine?

The contiguous ethnographic territory of Ukraine contains some 4,000 lakes. Within the borders of Ukraine there are over 3,000 lakes with a combined surface area of more than 2,000 sq km, which constitutes nearly 3.5 percent of the country's total land area.

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