Six Hours a Day of Electricity Calls for a Bit of Planning – Especially if Your Home Is Still Blown Up.
By Steve Richards
They've come a long way in nine months...especially considering how far-flung the devastation is. It’s like a Category 5 storm blew through parts of these towns. It’s that big in Hostomel, Irpin, and Bucha.
I arrived on Monday after a half-hour Uber from Kyiv. That is HUGE in and of itself. In April I did an all-day hike to get here since there were no cars available to me or trains running – just lots of checkpoints to navigate.
What is also huge is the amount of reconstruction still to be done around here. In many places, it hasn’t started. Many are living in bombed-out neighborhoods with a modicum of the necessities of modern living. Many are waiting for their homes to be repaired, like the guy I talked with who is waiting for his 6th-floor flat in Irpin to have its artillery-damaged roof repaired. The five floors underneath are occupied already.
Rolling blackouts are a reality here given the repeated hits on the infrastructure by Russian missiles. Two-hour allotments, three times a day, with more or less certainty. Same routine for outages. The rest is a definite maybe. So that’s 12 hours of certainty, 12 hours of uncertainty. Typing by candlelight while my laptop is on battery power and connected to the internet via my iPhone/AT&T hotspot is something I hadn’t had to do when I was here in April. Back then the power was solid, once it was restored. So, in this way, the area has had to take a step back.
It’s a stark contrast to the relative norm of the capital I experienced.
The idea of anything other than 24/7 rock-solid power – and internet – is untenable for most of us, especially if it is ongoing. But as Ukrainians like to say, it is much worse for others. At least the missiles are flying at the substations instead of into homes here.
I’m here for a few reasons. Number one is to screen Trek to Bucha in Bucha, which we will be doing on Sunday, February 5th. Number two is to film Back to Bucha, which is the sequel. Number three is to reconnect with those in the film and see how things are progressing. I’m very happy to say that I have found most of them and all are in good health and spirits. And the rebuild has progressed in many areas…others not so much.
Fortunately, the best restaurant in town is at the Viktoria Park Hotel where I am staying, which is featured in the film. In case you are interested, $50 will get you a sweet room including a robe and plenty of hot water. We’re screening the film in its ballroom.
Sure hope they like it.