CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Andriy Kovalskiy is a physics professor at Austin Peay State University, but his wife, daughter and three grandchildren have spent the last few days trying to flee Ukraine.
"They were spending a lot of time in the basement because of sirens because of the air strikes or missile strikes," said Kovalskiy.
The children and their mother, Kovalskiy's only daughter, call western Ukraine home. Kovalskiy's wife left the states to join them several weeks ago.
But when missiles landed close to their home, it was time to make the first move. "That’s too high risk for them to stay and wait and hope that nothing will come to the house," Kovalskiy said.
So they drove to Poland like countless others, but their plans to cross the border fell through when they were met with long lines and a flood of refugees trying to do the same. "So it was impossible because the line was so huge and they were not able to do that," said Kovalskiy.
Unsure of their next move, the family drove south.
"[They] then went to the mountain region so it's very kind of a wild place where its actually the border with Slovakia," said Kovalskiy.
Sunday night Kovalskiy finally got the call he had been waiting for. His wife, daughter, and grandchildren finally crossed the border and are now in Slovakia. "It’s painful, yeah? It’s painful, especially if you don’t know when they will return because it can be one week but it can be actually never, it depends," he said.
But professor Kovalskiy said the situation should be a lesson for everyone.
"The world should understand that this fight Ukrainians are now actually in — it's not about Ukraine, it's about the world actually."