Miami University professor with family in Ukraine hears of grim scenes

Liza Skyryzhevska, associate dean of Miami University Regionals and a professor at the school, says communications with family and friends from her homeland includes descriptions of frightened Ukrainians preparing for possible bombardment from invading Russian troops. Skyryzhevska, who is pictured in Ukraine during a Miami student study trip in recent years, says she is told the situation is especially grim for elderly citizens who lack the mobility to evacuate their homes. (Provided photo\Journal-News)

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Liza Skyryzhevska, associate dean of Miami University Regionals and a professor at the school, says communications with family and friends from her homeland includes descriptions of frightened Ukrainians preparing for possible bombardment from invading Russian troops. Skyryzhevska, who is pictured in Ukraine during a Miami student study trip in recent years, says she is told the situation is especially grim for elderly citizens who lack the mobility to evacuate their homes. (Provided photo\Journal-News)

Bomb thunder in the distance and sirens blare most nights as those still in their homes tape up and cover their windows with blankets in anticipation of Russian shells eventually being fired into their Ukrainian neighborhood.

That’s the grim picture a Miami University professor is getting from daily communications with family and friends in her Ukrainian homeland as Russian troops continue their invasion of that nation.

“They are extremely distressed, and the amount of stress is enormous,” Liza Skyryzhevska, associate dean of Miami University Regionals.

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“Some have already evacuated to the neighboring countries but they tell me many elderly people … will be affected the most because they are most vulnerable,” said Skyryzhevska referring to older Ukrainians who lack the mobility to leave their hometowns for safety.

“Elderly people are having such a difficult time because they cannot move from their homes.”

Cities in the eastern portion of the country, adjacent to Russia’s border, “are destroyed,” she has been told.

“It’s such a horrible situation and people are trying to flee. Younger people are more active in evacuating themselves and their families but the elderly are just staying.”

According to the Associated Press, a Russian airstrike devastated a maternity hospital Wednesday in the besieged port city of Mariupol and wounded at least 17 people, Ukrainian officials said.

The ground shook more than a mile away when the Mariupol complex — in southeastern Ukraine — was hit by a series of blasts that blew out windows and ripped away much of the front of one building. Police and soldiers rushed to scene to evacuate victims, carrying out a heavily pregnant and bleeding woman on a stretcher, according to the AP.

The photos and televised images of the invasion’s growing devastation are “absolutely heart-breaking,” Skyryzhevska said.

Of all the encroaching signs of war, the sirens are so far the most disruptive, her fellow natives told her because “when they hear the sirens they feel like they have to move to shelters, but they cannot access shelters.”

“They told me they found places inside their houses they think are safe. But all those rooms have windows, so they are trying to put some tape crisscrossed on the windows so they won’t be shattered and they are trying to cover them with blankets.”

Electricity is still on and water available but horded into buckets and pots in case the flow is cut off. Bread is available but local stores are very low on food, she is told.

“They fear their city will be bombarded because they think they will follow the same path of those other cities.”

“They say it’s only an issue of time,” she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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