France Bournazel dons her protectuve faceshield inside the reopened Russell Farm Market. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Island market finally reopens more than seven months after extreme flood

COVID situation lengthened an already long renovation process

There were times when France Bournazel thought the day would never come.

It’s been a long haul over more than seven months since flood waters engulfed the Russell Farm Market & Garden Centre at the Trans Canada Highway and Mount Sicker Road during a torrential rainstorm Feb. 1.

Related: Fundraiser created for popular Vancouver Island farm market overrun with water

The Garden Centre previously reopened, but the Market finally swung open again on Tuesday after months of dealing with renovations and insurance claims that didn’t come anywhere near to covering all incidentals and then the unexpected added burden from the pandemic.

“It was supposed to be done by the end of May,” noted co-owner Bournazel. “Because of COVID-19, we lost all our summer.”

Related: Russell Farm Market refurbishing for spring opening well underway

Step One is done to get operational again with all the safety measures for COVID and Step Two will entail the community coming together to offer support.

“We’re all in the same boat now,” said Bournazel. “We need our support from the people to stay alive for the winter.”

Everybody has to be strong, she stressed, and help each other out with the prime part of the season lost.

“We make our money in the summer so we can survive the winter,” said Bournazel. “It’s really dead serious here – not just me, everybody.”

New suppliers had to be found in certain cases for restocking the Market.

“We’re trying to get a lot of small business, we support them by carrying their stuff,” noted Bournazel.

The main emphasis for now is “we start slow,” she added. “We don’t want to fall on our face. Winter’s coming.”

The Market has reopened with more space between the aisles. The deli is also back in operation where lunchtime meals are offered and that makes long-time employee Cheryl McKay happy. She tried stints in the Garden Centre and doing other things to bridge the gap, but the deli is her forte.

“She’s finally where she belongs,” laughed Bournazel.

Putting all the pieces of the Market back together has taken extreme perseverance.

“I’m very thankful for all the people that helped me – physically labour-wise and money with GoFundMe,” Bournazel said. “The support is amazing around here.”

At times, it was tough for Bournazel to keep going but the support made it easier.

“Thank you to everybody,” she indicated. “It’s really amazing and I’m going to keep going.”

The water that rushed in so quickly in the early morning hours of Feb. 1 and caused so much devastation in a short time took a long time to patch up.

“I still can’t believe it,” said Bournazel. “I think we’re really doing good. I have an amazing staff. That helped.”

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Russell Farm Market & garden Centre’s France Bournazel is pleased to have Cheryl McKay back in her comfort zone at the deli. (Photo by Don Bodger)

A good selection of vegetables and fruit is just returning to the shelves of the Russell Farm Market & Deli since reopening. (Photo by Don Bodger)

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