Reportage 12:18 26 Jun 2023

Village in the Kherson region that resurrects from under the water

The water that flooded the Kherson region after the Russians blew up the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant is receding. Sadove, which is 20 kilometers from Kherson, is already black with rotten trees, withered vegetables, and heaps of garbage, which until June 6, was someone's life. Rubryka's correspondent was in Sadove when the village was flooded and returned there when it receded.

The streets of Sadove are empty and deserted

The streets of Sadove are empty and deserted

Empty box

Natalya Pelyushenko was showing us Sadove, which had just been flooded. Then on the boat, we sailed past the roofs of her house and shop, where Pelyushenko invested the last four years of her life. Together we plucked mulberry berries from the tops of the trees barely rising above the water and talked about the fact that despite everything happening, they did not give up.

"We washed these carpets just before the flooding, and they were lying clean here in the yard," Pelyushenko laughs, approaching the rolled-up carpets now soaked with mud.

Наслідки затоплення Херсонщини

Pelyushenko shows the carpets that she and her mother carefully washed before the flooding

This is Pelyushenko's mother's yard. It is impossible to enter the house now — the water destroyed the roof, which collapsed directly onto the rooms. Now the door is supported from the inside by the remains of the ceiling and fallen furniture.

Наслідки затоплення Херсонщини

A woman looks into the window of her house

Pelyushenko's house now stands with bare walls and a broken ceiling. The water damaged everything, so now the previous repairs do not matter — the locals have to tear the softened plasterboard from the walls, remove the stretch ceilings and throw away the furniture.

"We simply don't have enough hands for such a large number of destroyed houses. We are not coping. We have very few people in the village, mostly women, very few men. We don't know how to restore it all," Pelyushenko says.

The owner moves from room to room — her whole house is now an empty box. What used to be the life of a whole family here is revealed by the exquisite chandeliers hanging on the now bare wooden beams. The remains of snow-white tiles in the kitchen and a row of glasses by the sink somehow survived.

Збитки на Херсонщині від підриву Каховської ГЕС

Nothing will be cooked in this kitchen for a long time


When we go out into the yard, Pelyushenko leads us to the pictures painted by her son. Instead of being on the walls, they are under the fence — with the most sunlight and the best chance to dry. The mother talks about her son's reaction to the water leaving:

"The first thing he asked was, 'Mom, what about my paintings?'" Pelyushenko sadly recalls.

Збитки на Херсонщині від підриву Каховської ГЕС

Pelyushenko shows the paintings, which her son loves so much

A little further, also under the sun, are carefully stacked old albums. The woman says she feels most sorry about them. When she starts talking about photos of grandparents, for the first time in our entire conversation, she does not hold back tears:

"Here I had photos of my father from the army, wedding photos of my parents. Now there is nothing. It is a truly precious memory, and now it is gone. Everything remains only in the heart," Pelyushenko sighs.


The Pelyushenkos are not the only family whose memory was drowned by the Russians. Near the gate, on the streets, and in the yards, numerous piles of garbage can be seen — damaged furniture, stacks of soaked books and photo albums, household appliances, children's toys, and clothes. Everything that people worked for for years became nothing in an instant.

"I feel like I should be here"

Together with Pelyushenko, we go to her fellow villager Oleksandr who tells how he now prepares food outside, shows a rotten vegetable garden with completely black young trees, and talks about a missile hitting closeby two weeks before the flood. He talks about everything calmly and casually, but as soon as he approaches the damaged furniture, he starts crying. Oleksandr says that the chairs he spent a fortune on ended up in the trash. There are sofas, mattresses, and other furniture along with the chairs, and Oleksandr does not know whether it will be possible to restore at least something.

руйнації після підриву Каховської ГЕС

Oleksandr is standing near a pile of damaged furniture

"There was a kitchen here, and then the basement collapsed. I have lived here for nine years and built everything myself. Now everything must be thrown away. There is nothing," Oleksandr sighs. 

He, like Pelyushenko, has neither electricity, gas, nor water. It is impossible to dry the walls or any furniture. The local authorities explain that they cannot restore the electricity supply due to constant shelling.

Pelyushenko says that despite everything, she will not leave her village but will restore her house and try to start a business again. She says that most of the residents of Sadove are very attached to their homes, including her. Even during the occupation, she did not want to leave the village to the last but left to protect her son from the Russians.

"When you come from here, when you know everyone here, because either you grew up in front of these people, or they grew up in front of you when you know who built it how and who invested how much of their souls into it, you feel sorry," Pelyushenko continues. "Everything was taken away from us in just one moment. I feel like I should be here. I will help someone, and someone will help me. I want us all to be united. We all need support. There are moments when you want no one to say anything to you but just hug you so that you feel that someone is here for you. Words don't work here," Pelyushenko says.

Херсонщина піля того, як зійшла водаNatalya is showing her yard
There is still standing water in some places in the village. It is unknown what is happening in the occupied flooded territories. However, one thing is clear — in Sadove, as well as throughout Ukraine, people will not give up.



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