“The construction workers are doing their job very well. They toil seven days a week,” says Tamara Herasymenko, a resident of a 16-story building on Chernobyl Street on the western outskirts of Kyiv. Along with several other residents of the house, she came to see how the work was progressing.

On the morning of March 15, a Russian missile hit the high-rise and caused extensive damage. A gas line leading to the upper floors was also hit. A major fire quickly broke out. 76 of 126 apartments burned out completely, the rest were damaged by extinguishing water and soot. A third of the residents were at home at the time, Herasymenko recalls. The rescue workers managed to evacuate more than 40 people, but four died.

Since then, people have not had their own roof over their heads. “Some rent an apartment temporarily, some have stayed with relatives and others are abroad. I rented an apartment here in Kyiv,” says the woman, adding that all residents would like to return to their own four walls as soon as possible.

“Around 100 construction workers work on it every day,” says Denys Titow, project manager at Askon, which is responsible for rebuilding the house. “We think we’ll make it in time for the start of the heating season in mid-October or November,” he emphasizes, but admits that there are delays in the delivery of building materials due to the war.

The “Askon” company started work at the beginning of April after a statics check allowed further use of the building. “Initially, the residents said they didn’t want to live here anymore. The damage seemed too great. But this building will be there for a long time,” says Titow.

He is certain that the block of flats withstood the heavy rocket impact thanks to a special construction. “It was lucky that this house in particular was built to be earthquake-proof. There are only 30 of them in the whole of Kyiv. If this had not been the case, the consequences would be much worse and the building would have had to be demolished,” said Titov.

“A lot of rubble was taken away, everything was covered with dust,” the project manager recalls of the preparations for the construction work. The outer walls are now being insulated and the apartments renovated. “The house will be better than before. There are new power lines, modern elevators, an insulated facade, energy-saving windows and new bathrooms,” reports Titow.

Only furniture for the apartments are not included in the construction work. But volunteers are helping here, says Tamara Herasymenko: “Those who have absolutely nothing left will be given furniture and household goods.”

A 26-story high-rise building on Lobanovsky Prospect, a few kilometers south-west of the city center, also suffered significant damage. On February 26, a Russian missile tore a hole in the building between the 17th and 21st floors. The upper apartments were hanging in the air, so to speak, and there was a risk of collapse. The residents therefore quickly collected donations in order to be able to finance construction work.

“At that time the state could not take care of the reconstruction of houses. Therefore, we collected donations to erect supports between the floors. The rubble was also cleared away,” says Olena Chumakova, who coordinates the construction work as the representative of the residents. Almost two million hryvnia (around 53,000 euros) were raised, of which 1.3 million (around 35,000 euros) have already been spent.

In early May, the local authorities conducted an audit. She concluded that repairs were possible. But to do this, the upper floors had to be dismantled, which took three months. Despite the work, people were able to continue living in the undamaged apartments.

“It was a summer full of noise and dust. Even now there is still hammering. But we are glad that the building is restored. We didn’t expect work to start so quickly,” says Chumakova. According to her, experts have put the cost at 57 million hryvnia (around 1.5 million euros). The sum has already been approved by the city of Kyiv.

“Unfortunately, the building will not be ready before the heating season,” said Oleksandr Akimov, director of the city company Shilinvestbud-UKB, which is responsible for the reconstruction of all damaged buildings in the capital. According to him, the work on Lobanowskyj Prospekt cannot be accelerated because the concrete still has to harden. In addition, the outer walls could not be insulated in frost. “I think the work will be finished in March or April next year,” Akimov said.

A total of 640 objects, including 238 apartment buildings, were damaged by rockets in Kyiv at the beginning of Russia’s war of aggression. 16 of them suffered significant damage. According to Akimov, around 600 million hryvnia (around 16 million euros) have been allocated from the city budget for the ongoing reconstruction work. But the sum could increase after the completion of ongoing tests on other buildings.

The Ukrainian government also approved an additional 200 million hryvnia (around 5.3 million euros). “This money is intended for houses in Kyiv whose windows were shattered by blast waves.” More and more residents are gradually returning and applying to the authorities for repairs, says the project manager.

Adaptation from the Russian: Markian Ostapchuk

Author: Oleksandr Kunyzkyj

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The original of this article “How the reconstruction is progressing in Kyiv” comes from Deutsche Welle.