Former Houston-area man, now living in Ukraine, trying to escape hostilities with Russia
HOUSTON - As fighting continues in Ukraine, the trip for civilians trying to get out is a difficult one.
That includes Americans who were still in the country when hostilities started. A former Houston-area man is among them, after he moved to the eastern European country to work.
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Speaking to FOX 26, from the relative safety of a hotel room in Ukraine's western city of Lviv, David Manaker is trying to get out.
"I'm very, very nervous," he said. "You don't know what's going to happen."
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Manaker describes an uneasy calm, in the city, as few people venture out and the quiet is regularly pierced by the sound of air-raid sirens.
"I woke up, and I heard gunfire; probably anti-aircraft fire for an incoming air raid outside the city," he says.
When we first spoke with Manaker, in January, he said there was little expectation that the standoff, with Russia, would turn violent.
"I think Ukrainians were caught a little off guard," he explained. "They didn't think that the Russians would do this, and to be honest, I didn't think the Russians would do this."
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Now that fighting has started, Manaker and his wife are trying to join tens of thousands trying to get out of the country, but the options are limited.
Air travel is closed, and a short drive to the Polish border, he's been told, is taking 20 hours or more before being able to cross into NATO-controlled territory. Instead, he's betting on a 13-hour train trip to Hungary, hoping the trip is not disrupted or canceled.
Manaker says it's all been very sobering to witness, especially as an American.
"As Americans, we take our freedom, and we take our lives for granted, sometimes, and we forget that there are people who are going to die for their freedom," he explained.
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Part of the cost of that sacrifice may mean that there is not a free Ukraine to return to.
"The most important thing is for us to make it out of here alive, and then we'll figure out what to do next," he concluded.