France Bournazel nervously checks the Chemainus River after heavy rains.
Still in fear a year later that the torrent waters, which flooded out Russell Farms Market on January 31, 2020, will return.
“I cannot get it out of my mind,” said France Bournazel, Owner of the market. “It is still going on in my head.”
As she prepared to mark the one year anniversary of the once-in-a-generation disaster that took many months to rebuild from, Bournazel reflected on what she and her neighbours have gained.
According to Bournazel, it made Cowichan’s community and her market stronger than ever with a new resolve to help each other as COVID-19 forces them apart.
“I’m gonna say it over and over, don’t say why me, say try me,” said Bournazel.
In the days following the flood, neighbours volunteered to help each other, starting online fundraisers to survive for months out of their homes or businesses.
It has all culminated with the goods that are now stocking the shelves of the Chemainus market.
From locally-made cookies to masks, coffee, pies, and cheeses – dozens of homegrown products are proudly sold at the market like never before – as Bournazel tries to help local producers struggling to find an outlet during the pandemic.
“Because they are not an essential service they can’t do their craft fairs anymore,” said Russell Farms Market employee, Jacqueline McQuinn.
“And a lot of them relied strongly on that for the biggest portion of their sales,” she said.
“We have to support each other,” added Bournazel. “You know we’re a small community and we have to support our people here.”
The market re-opened in September and since then, customers like Wendy Morlok have flooded back.
“I come and see her all the time and she comes and sees me at my work,” said Morlok, a Cowichan resident
Sunday’s anniversary will be a hard one, but according to Bournazel, it will also be a marker of better days ahead.