Back to Ukraine: Nebraska senator to evacuate civilians, lend aid

State Sen. Tom Brewer traveling to Ukraine next week
State Sen. Tom Brewer traveling to Ukraine next week(File photo)
Published: Oct. 7, 2022 at 10:22 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - In the lull between chemotherapy sessions, Nebraska State Sen. Tom Brewer will travel to Ukraine for the second time.

Brewer took his first trip to Ukraine in late June. Then, his focus was observation.

“I was there to learn,” Brewer said. “I wanted to get a sense of the war... I wanted to see how Americans could better help Ukrainians in the war effort.”

That led Brewer to meetings with military officers and city officials--hoping he could take that information back home and put it to the eyes of U.S. officials. But he also distributed supplies in war-torn regions, including the Donbas.

Next Friday, Brewer is set to embark on another foray into the embattled country. This time, he’s focusing more on humanitarian aid.

For Brewer, it’s a race against the winter. He’ll spend the bulk of his time in villages in southeast Ukraine, which is a hotbed of fighting right now--set in the shadow of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Brewer said nearly 1,200 people--many who are elderly--are trapped in what’s become a no man’s land between the Russian and Ukrainian lines. Damage from the fighting has left them without ways to heat their homes and the days are only getting colder.

Brewer will join six teams of pastors to help get those people to safety.

“We realized that with winter coming on, they won’t survive the winter,” Brewer said. “Because there’s no electricity and no natural gas. and it’s just essential that we figure out a way of getting them out of there... So we’re hoping to do a village a day for 11 days.”

Brewer will also bring a trove of medical supplies and electronic, solar powered Bibles for Ukrainian chaplains.

“These people are in need of some hope,” he said.

Brewer plans to travel across Ukraine until early November. He said the trip comes with both hope and foreboding.

“I really hope we can get as many people out of there as possible,” he said. “I’m afraid that Russia will escalate the conflict with either chemical or nuclear weapons.”