UKRAINE: Olga Kobzar aims to endure winter for as long as she can without electricity, water, or central heating by igniting the gas stove in her kitchen for warmth in an abandoned tower block devastated by Russian shelling in Ukraine’s second city.
The 70-year-old is in the midst of what Ukrainian experts predict will be the worst winter in decades. He lives alone in a devastated area of northern Kharkiv where it may be as cold as -20 Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit).
She is the final resident of her tower block, which is located in the Saltivka neighbourhood and around 30 kilometres (20 miles) from the Russian border.
Although her apartment is still standing despite being without basic amenities, her neighbour’s was hit and other apartments caught fire.
She points to the antique bookshelves and the picture of her late husband, whom she considers to be her guardian, and declares, “It would be a sin to leave this home.“
The energy network and residential areas in many portions of Ukraine have suffered significant damage as a result of the seven-month war, and officials are concerned that Moscow may target crucial infrastructure when the frost arrives.
To prepare for delays to the centralized home-heating season that are difficult to predict because so many different things could go wrong, officials are advising households to stock up on everything from firewood to electric generators.
Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said, “Not everything depends on us – a lot depends on where the missiles land and what is destroyed. The aggressors want to doom us to a cold and dark winter.”
Power plants powered by natural gas are used to centrally heat residential areas in cities, however heating apartment buildings with broken windows and walls are risky since the pipes could freeze and damage the local system.
According to the most recent estimate, 350 of Ukraine’s hundreds of heating facilities, including several large ones, and 50,000 buildings and homes—including several large ones—were damaged during Russia’s invasion.