ST. PTERSBURG, Fla. — Ukrainian Americans in the Tampa Bay area are coming together to pray for peace and a Tampa organization in Ukraine is ready to evacuate any Americans if the need arises.
Many church members at the Epiphany of Our Lord Ukrainian Catholic Church in St. Petersburg have family in Ukraine. Some are sending over supplies, others are praying for safety. On Sunday, February 20th, the church will host several prayer sessions for Ukraine.
ABC Action News also spoke with a Tampa-based organization called Project Dynamo that’s in Kyiv, Ukraine for nearly a week.
The leader of the organization said they're making plans right now to evacuate thousands of Americans from the country if Russia invades.
The same local organization has helped thousands of Americans escape from Afghanistan.
Project Dynamo spent the past week ramping up operations in Ukraine and collecting donations to be able to plan mass evacuations — if needed.
“ProjectDynamo.Org. That’s our website. If you go to it right now there is a Ukrainian evacuation button. You click that and say my name is John Doe, here’s my phone number and my email and then we start building manifests so we can get people together and move them around," Bryan Stern with Project Dynamo said.
Stern described the situation in Ukraine as “surreal but not panic.”
The Tampa resident heads up Project Dynamo and is currently planning for the uncertain. "Since the war hasn’t started yet, I can’t tell you if the airports will be open, if the airfields will be open, are there tanks rolling through the streets? Are the checkpoints?” Stern questioned.
Sarasota resident Andrew Futey says he’s growing more concerned about his relatives in Ukraine by the day.
“Right now it’s a very serious and critical time. Over the last 3 or 4 days the situation has even gotten worse in terms of what’s happening in Ukraine," he said.
Futey heads up the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America and is urging leaders in the US to send support and issue sanctions against the Russian federation.
"We are demanding, urging and hopeful the us steps up to the plate and enacts those sanctions as quickly as possible," he elaborated.
President Joe Biden plans to convene a meeting of the National Security Council Sunday to discuss the situation in Ukraine.