HOUSTON - The United Nations estimates about 2.8 million people have escaped from Ukraine, since the Russian invasion. Among them is a former Houston-area man, who was working in Ukraine, and found himself on the front line of a war zone.
From a temporary home in Budapest, Hungary, Dave Manaker contemplates his circumstances, "Right now, we're refugees, I guess you could say."
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He and his wife escaped by train, taking a 13-hour journey from Lviv, Ukraine. The trip was spent standing, or sitting on luggage, in the compartments packed with countless others who were trying to make the same journey to safety.
"I was wondering if the train was even going to make it out of Kyiv, all the way to Lviv," says Manaker, "That was a concern."
Once underway and across the border, out of Ukraine, he says there was a certain sense of relief.
"There was still grief among those who had left others behind, but the pressure seemed to be off."
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From Hungary, Manaker and other experts are working remotely for Ukraine's national gas company, Naftogaz, along with colleagues unable to leave Ukraine, trying to keep critical infrastructure working.
"Even though the country's at war, right now, people still have electricity in many cities and towns and there's still a need for natural gas to generate electricity, as well as heat," he says.
That work will continue as long as it can, offering a sense of purpose in uncertain times, safely removed from hostilities just hours away.
"You feel safe here, but it gnaws at you, sometimes."
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That relative 'safety' may be short-lived, however. European Union rules only allow unregistered workers to stay 90-days of every six months. So the coming weeks will include figuring out where he goes next. It's a small part of a much larger conversation over what to do with the millions of refugees leaving Ukraine.