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'Life Will Change In Minutes': Tampa Veteran Group To Start Evacuating Americans From Ukraine

The group that has evacuated thousands out of Afghanistan is now ready to help evacuate Americans after mapping out escape plans.

TAMPA, Fla — As tensions rise in Ukraine, many are preparing for an attack from Russia at any moment including a group from the Tampa Bay area.

Project Dynamo, a veteran group from Tampa, has been in Ukraine for over a week laying out the groundwork to get American citizens out of the country should an invasion occur. Things have been stable, but late Monday night everything changed.

“It is definitely surreal. There’s tension in the streets,” Bryan Stern, the Co-Founder of the group said.

As Russia enters Ukraine people have started to grow uneasy. The group that has evacuated thousands out of Afghanistan is now ready to help evacuate Americans after mapping out escape plans.

“We’ve been finding safe-havens. We’ve been building out human networks,” Stern said. “We’ve taken the lessons learned from all the evacuations we’ve done in Afghanistan and we’re applying those lessons learned to the Ukraine problem.”

Danger hasn’t gotten to them yet in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, but it’s imminent.

“We’re a 40 minute flight time away by helicopter from armed gunships from the north, the Russian navy is in the sea. They can be here in hours. I mean, Russian paratroopers could be parachuting into Kyiv in 20 minutes,” Stern said.

Stern says the country is being held hostage and things have already gotten violent. Americans have not been evacuated yet, but dozens are starting to reach out for help, trying to avoid Russia’s army.

“If they want to take over Kyiv, the first thing the Russians are going to do is kill the cell phones and turn the power off,” Stern said. “Now it’s dark, it’s cold, and you don’t have google maps anymore. You can’t text message anybody and it’s scary. Without doing anything, not a single shot fired. Within a minute, life changes for pretty much everybody here. That panic will become a whole circus of just stuff chaos.”

Flights in and out of Kyiv have been canceled. Stern was scheduled to be on a flight to Poland Tuesday. He’s now one of many Americans left stranded in the country, but isn’t worried yet. The real work of getting Americans out of Ukraine starts now.

If you, or anyone you know, is an American citizen and needs to be evacuated out of Ukraine, you can contact Project Dynamo here. The group is a non-profit organization and any donations will help them continue to evacuate people.

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