Did you know there’s a community of 100-odd elderly women who live in the radioactive “dead zone” around Chernobyl, site of the catastrophic nuclear explosion that rocked the world 30 years ago? Despite the devastating horrors of this level 7 event (the maximum classification on the International Nuclear Event Scale) and the mandatory evacuation of all residents, these stubborn old women chose to defy the Ukrainian government, radiation scientists and common sense to settle in this toxic wasteland. Why? Because it’s home.
After Reactor No. 4 blew up, the area within an 18-mile radius was evacuated and 16,000 residents became displaced. Rather than be relocated to unfamiliar cities to live in bland government housing assigned to them after the disaster, about 1,200 people defiantly trickled back to their hometown and rolled the radioactive dice.