Ukrainians try to block Russian tanks with their bodies and bicycles

From left to right, Sofia, Yulia, Yulia and Aryna’s mother. (Courtesy of Yulia Klepets)

About a minute after the sirens went off on Saturday morning, Yulia Klepets heard a huge boom. She saw from her window that a building about 200 meters from her house had been hit by something.

A huge hole appeared on one side of the high-rise building. There was fire and smoke. Debris was flying everywhere. She started to panic; his whole body was shaking.

Klepets took refuge at home alongside her mother, two daughters and a cousin. The five women had to make a quick decision. Klepets’ cousin and younger daughter descended into an underground parking lot that turned into a bomb shelter. She stayed with her mother and eldest daughter.

“My mother is 82 years old. She can’t walk on her own and there’s no way to get her down because we’re on the seventh floor,” she told CNN on Saturday.

Klepets’ oldest daughter, Aryna, is 25 and has autism. She was in shock, unable to move.

“She couldn’t go down the stairs. She couldn’t stay in the shelter,” Klepets said.

Aryna doesn’t understand what’s going on, Klepets said. She keeps asking her mother if there will be more tremors or not.

“She wants to go to the beach, or at least to the pool, and I have to explain to her that there’s a war going on right now so we can’t do that, and then she says, ‘Maybe it will end and then we’ll go somewhere nice [near] the sea,” Klepets said, adding that Aryna can’t swim, but she really likes the seaside. “She finds [it] miraculous when she is by the sea.

Aryna (Courtesy of Yulia Klepets)

Shortly after the strike, Klepets’ cousin returned from the basement. She said Sofia, the youngest daughter of Klepets, was too scared without her. She tried to resist, refusing to leave her mother and Aryna behind, but was forced to leave.

“We said goodbye. We kissed without saying a word,” she said.

Klepets said she had been trying to get help for her mother and Aryna for four days.

“I called the rehabilitation services center and was told that people who cannot move on their own should call and register so that they are on the list of people who need help with mobility,” she said. “They told me to call the next day, they would tell me what documents we needed. Then they told me they could come to my apartment and help me clean, but they didn’t offer to take my daughter out. I don’t know what to say about it,” she said.

Klepets said families of people with disabilities find themselves trapped in Kyiv.

“Yesterday there were evacuations, so there was a chance to escape. There were trains, local transport was paid, the trains were free, but you had to come to the station alone and I couldn’t leave my mother,” she said.

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