The fates of Chernobyl victims are complex, the burden of tragedy responds to them after more than a third of a century. Those who were on duty on the night of the disaster – almost all became heroes, at least for their families and in human memory. The catastrophe is still a dream for those who, having lost a night’s sleep, looked at the crimson glow from the windows of their own apartment in Pripyat, on balconies and bridges. To such an extent, it was a terrible, inexplicable, and at the same time bewitching sight.
“My heart sank from a misunderstanding of the situation”, eyewitnesses say. Nobody really told the truth. The night passed in thoughts of a fire, despite this, in the morning the children went to kindergartens and schools, all the institutions started working, the youth hurried to the registry offices. Now it beggars belief, it’s scary to believe, but on that Saturday day there were 8 weddings in Pripyat.
The lives, fates, memories and facts of those who lived in Pripyat “before” and could not live “after”
Below you can find some information, comments, memories of those for whom Pripyat was once funkytown, in which newlywed`s houses were built, parks with children’s attractions were erected.
…Living in Pripyat and working at the Chernobyl NPP was prestigious. The city was built from scratch for nuclear specialists and their families. It was planned that the best of the best would work at a super powerful and promising Chernobyl nuclear power plant, so there was everything in Pripyat, including scarce goods in stores. As they say, the families of the NPP workers did not need anything.
…Emotions …Impressions. As if you are transported by a time machine to the events of 33 years ago. They began to build Pripyat almost simultaneously with the construction of the Chernobyl NPP itself. It was at the beginning of a very small village where the builders themselves lived. Then, by the time the NPP was launched, dozens, hundreds of families from different parts of the Soviet Union had begun to arrive in Pripyat, and the city grew to the size of a real atomic city. In the future, it was planned that Pripyat would become an important artery on the way to the intersection of large water, rail and transport highways.
Pripyat should really be the city of the future. The city was rapidly growing into a Klondike engineer from a small youth town with a population of just over 40,000. All, young physicists, chemists, engineers, mechanics, sought to it.
There was everything in Pripyat – a new culture and leisure park with a ferris wheel, a cinema, a culture center, sports centers, stadiums, swimming pools, a hotel, shopping centers, new clinics, schools and kindergartens.
Every year, population growth increased on average by 800 newborn babies and 500-600 arriving specialists. It was planned that by the time the Chernobyl NPP was fully operational, at least 80 thousand people would be lived in Pripyat.
The catastrophe crossed out these plans. The city did not sleep on the night of the tragedy. Someone planned a vacation for the May holidays, someone gave birth in a maternity hospital, someone rested after being on duty at the station. Seeing a bright glow of fire in the windows of their apartments, dozens of people ran out into the streets, someone rushed to the highest point in the city – the entrance bridge, which, as it turned out later, was the center of almost the largest accumulation of radiation at that time.
Simple looky-loos and adolescents who ran out after their parents stood on it. Almost none of them survived because you can not feel radiation, it has no smell. People believed that an ordinary fire occurred at the station. They believed that he was about to be eliminated. They stood, shocked by the sight, just looked at the fire, it turned out – in anticipation of their own death.
Elena Kozlova, a polymer chemist, the head of the laboratory for flame retardant materials, was among those who, in order to clean up radioactive dust and garbage, made plans to deactivate the surviving power units of the station. She assures that no one was ready for such a tragedy. Not only that, no one even thought that this could happen in principle in the Soviet state.
“…Nobody told us anything, what level of radiation was, what dose we received, nothing! And we spent almost 38 hours before evacuation in this zone. We were soaked through with all this! And all this time no one gave us any help. Although there were a lot of ambulance units in the city, in every office in the warehouse lay boxes, there were antidotes, potassium iodine, respirators and clothes for every family member.
All this was, only no one took advantage of this. They brought us iodine only on the second day, when it was already useless to drink it. Having evacuated wherever we could, we transported radiation throughout Ukraine ”, the inhabitants of Pripyat share their memories.
The ghost town Pripyat
The evacuation of the city began only after two days. On Monday, a warning siren was heard throughout Pripyat about the danger. In the afternoon, yellow buses began to come to the houses – there were 1225 pieces of equipment in total. No one doubted that he would not leave for long, and would return home literally next weekend. They said they were taking to Kiev. Many were even happy because the long-awaited opportunity appeared to see the Kiev Pecherska Lavra.
By some miracle, they managed to bring fishing rods onto the bus. Fishing enthusiasts were going to just wait a couple of days in a tent by the river, go fishing for pleasure – when is this possibility yet foreseen? Only a few who in a panic accidentally forgot their documents and had to return home in a couple of days understood that they were crossing the threshold of their own home for the last time. The first attempts by marauders to penetrate abandoned apartments and seize other people’s property had already been visible.
“…We were recommended to take only documents, daily necessities and food for several days. They did not say on the radio how long the evacuation would last, but for some reason everyone was firmly convinced that it was only three days. Kinda, they would wash the city, and everything would be as before. In anticipation of buses, people played on the street –some in football, some in badminton. Some brought skewers and fishing rods with them. It seemed that everyone had gathered outside the city for a big picnic”, the former residents of the city recall.
In principle, it was allowed to independently go anywhere and by anything, if only as far as possible from 30 km zones. Toward evening, Pripyat became almost empty. Abandoned toys in a children’s sandbox, laundry, hanging on the balconies of apartments, prams and bicycles left in the middle of the courtyard – this is how the city exists today, purely geographically.
Last time, Pripyat can be visited from a sightseeing point of view. Abandoned houses, the ferris wheel that did not work in the recreation park, the practically completed masterpieces of Soviet postmodernism: the Polesye Hotel, the Energetik Culture House, the Prometey Cinema.
All this had to unite Soviet families, to inspire for labor. And it turned out that all this horror, left from the once joyful city, inspires only terrible memories. The city of make-a-wish became a place where many of these desires were buried under a layer of graphite and dusted with uranium dust.
These wishes were not destined to come true, they, remaining the memory of the ghost town, are circling the unoccupied school corridors, houses and streets of the former beauty Pripyat.