Ukranian couple in Bay Area after narrowly escaping war torn country

A Ukrainian couple who barely made it out of their war torn country, is now safe here in the Bay Area with their daughter. 

"I cannot get used to the airplanes," said Anatoli Hulyi, who escaped with his wife, and is now staying with his daughter, Oksana Lapii in Morgan Hill. "I’m very, very nervous. There is this feeling of anxiety that I cannot stop or overcome."

The planes flying overhead during KTUV's interview, took Hulyi back to his home in Chernihiv just two weeks ago, where Russian bombs were dropping from the sky. He and his wife Olena, sheltered in their basement.

"First it was a little distant, all the bombings, but then it was getting closer and closer," said Olena Hula. 

Their daughter had been pleading with them on the phone to leave since the first bomb dropped.

"She said Oksana, it started," recalled Lapii. "Right away I told her so jump in the car and leave."

The family was initially reluctant to leave their country. Her father, like many Ukranians, was committed to defending his home, but as the bombing intensified, they finally made the difficult decision to pick up and go. 

"As soon as they basically left their house, they were passing by the civil infrastructure, the movie theater, that was destroyed, the children’s hospital that was completely destroyed," said Lapii.

They traveled for on rural dirt roads, through fields and forests, staying one night in a small village.

"Everything was burned around them. It was just this one little house where they stayed, and the airplanes were flying and bombing," said Lapii.

The next morning, they witnessed more destruction, including burnt tanks and decimated towns. The couple's only thought was, "There is no guarantee that you’re going to make it to a safer place, but there is also no way back, so you just have to close your eyes and go," said Hulyi.

Eventually the couple made it across the border and flew from Romania to San Francisco to meet their daughter on March 14th.

"I’m feeling ok now as I’m now close to my daughter, and my grandkids, but I’m very, very worried for my parents that stayed in Chernihiv," said Hula.

The couple also learned on Sunday, shortly before attending a rally for Ukraine in Redwood City, that their neighbor's homes, on either side of their own, had been bombed.

"We will never be the same as before the war," said Hulyi.

Still, the couple says they are convinced that their president and their people will win the war.

"Everyone is supporting him. Everyone wants to help him," said Hula.

"Ukrainians can take a lot and are very strong," said Hulyi.