(KCAU) — A former Iowa man who has spent the last several decades in Ukraine says things are going to get worse before they get better as shortages begin to set in Kyiv.  

Photo courtesy of Gordie Siebring, photo shows the aftermath of a grain elevator being struck

Gordie Siebring spent more than a decade farming in northwest Iowa until he went to Ukraine in 1993 as a volunteer.  

“I was here as a volunteer for three weeks, and then, the company that had sent us over here brought us over here to Ukraine,” said Siebring, “[the company] asked myself and several other gentlemen to stay all the rest of year as agronomic advisors and to help manage a very large project at an American company had been doing there in the first year that Ukraine had kind of come out of the Soviet Union.”  

Siebring said he spent years been doing work between the United States and Ukraine, and about eight years ago he started a farming operation in the northern corner of Ukraine.  

“For anyone who’s familiar with the geography of Ukraine,” said Siebring, “We’re just kind of on the backside of Chernobyl. In fact, this area got developed only within the last 10 to 15 years. Up until that time it had been kind of off-limits due to the radiation from Chernobyl, but now that’s kind of cleared up and a lot of Syria has gone back into farming again. And that’s how I found myself tucked up there right next to the Belarus border.”  

Photo courtesy of Gordie Siebring, photo shows the aftermath of five rockets hitting a hog-producing facility

Siebring indicated that he’s developed a kinship with the people and the culture, and he hopes that his presence will make a difference there.  

“You know, this is a country that has a lot of problems, so nobody will argue that,” said Siebring, “but nonetheless, they have a culture and history worth preserving and saving.” 

Siebring said Siouxland should know that the people in Ukraine have a “tremendous tenacity” and while they may not be fully equipped, they continue to take a stand.  

“I know that in the first few days people saw these huge lines of cars driving out of – trying to escape Kyiv and go to the west,” said Siebring, “but the untold backstory of that is a lot of those guys that were taking their families out of Ukraine have been returned to, you know, help save their country. And that’s the unfortunate untold back story.”  

Photo courtesy of Gordie Siebring, photo shows the empty shelves of a large supermarket in Odessa

Siebring said they aren’t seeing a lot of action in their area, but they do catch occasional artillery fire and fire from planes.  

“They recently bombed a local elevator here,” said Siebring, “Obviously, not a strategic military target. It was a large grain storage elevator and drying facility and then the next night they took on the largest hog farm in the area and destroyed that. Again, obviously not a strategic military target, but one can reach his own conclusions about what they hope to accomplish with hitting a grain elevator and, you know, a hog producing facility.” 

Photo courtesy of Gordie Siebring, photo shows an unexploded rocket that landed in his field

Siebring said five rockets hit the hog-producing facility and hundreds of pigs were maimed and killed, a few survived the blast. He also said that part of an unexploded rocket landed in his field, he has noticed signs of shortages affecting the area. He explained that the stores are getting bare because Russia has targeted the infrastructure.  

“Bridges are gone, roads are destroyed in many places, and it’s going to be a long time before food is going to be able to get back out to stock in these stores,” said Siebring, “Kyiv and some of the bigger cities are really worried about that.”  

Siebring indicated that since most of Ukraine’s fuel came from Russia and Belarus, there is no way to get gas or diesel in the area.  

Siebring compared rural life in Ukraine to the U.S. in the 1930s, “We still have a lot of people that have a family cow. They have some chickens, and they keep a large, large family garden.”  

Siebring says there was much infrastructure to rebuild after the war in Donbas, so if when the war is completed, there is no help to rebuild, then the people who live in the area will be in a critical situation. He said that anyone who wishes to help should be patient and wait for the right avenues to be set up to ensure that aid ends up in the right hands.  

“Please, please help, but please be careful how you help,” said Siebring, “You know, I think northwest Iowa, there’s a lot of very strong church organizations. I think those are going to be the first that’ll have some good straight-up ways to get funding and get relief supplies in Ukraine, but just be careful. Be generous but be careful, I guess, is my advice.”