Red Cross program supports Merritt’s Plant and Flower Shop after 2021 Floods

By: Rajnesh Sharma
In November 2021, around 2 a.m. Vicki Hansen jolted out of bed to answer the loud knocking at her door. The 70-year-old entrepreneur was about to experience the scariest event of her life. As she opened the door, two firefighters informed her about the flooding within her residential area and gave an evacuation order to leave her Merritt residence immediately.

“It is the scariest thing I've ever gone through. Really, not knowing where to go,” recalls Vicki.

Alone and not knowing where to go, Vicki decided to head to her shop, Miss Vicki's Petals and Plants Flower Shop in downtown Merritt.

A woman smiling outside a store that says Miss Vicky's Petals and PlantsIn 2018, Vicki had opened the shop to provide her community with beautiful flowers and plants.

“There was no flower shop and I thought Merritt deserved one,” says the business owner, who has lived in the town for 40 years.
“It's not just a flower shop in town, it means a lot to a lot of people,” states Vicki adding the shop has become a place of gathering for community members.
That inauspicious November night, Vicki would eventually leave her shop and end up sleeping at her friend’s place situated outside of Merritt.
Due to safety concerns, the city had blocked off access to downtown Merritt for three weeks after the flood, remembers Vicki.
Fortunately, Vicki’s shop did not get flooded. She also managed to obtain permission from the city to water her products during the evacuation order that restricted access. Although many of her flowers wilted away, Vicki succeeded to keep all her plants alive. But despite the win, the impacts of the flood would be felt financially on her business for months ahead.
After the flood, road closures and a decrease in the demand for her products led to her business slowing down. To keep the business operational, Vicki started borrowing money from her line of credit.
“I had people coming [to the shop] and telling me about the program,” says Vicki, referring to the Canadian Red Cross Support to Small Businesses and Not-for-Profits Program.
The program was launched this summer to provide financial assistance of $5,000 to eligible businesses and not-for-profits that were impacted by the 2021 November floods in BC.
“I'm going further and further into my line of credit...I thought it can't hurt me to try and apply,” says the business owner.
Within weeks of submitting her application, she received funds to support Miss Vicki's Petals and Plants Flower Shop.
“It's taken off so much financial stress, and the worry of having to use all my line of credit and leaving nothing as a cushion...constant stress and stress and pressure. And that's been lifted,” explains Vicki.
“I feel like I have breathing room.”
Vicki says the grant “absolutely means the world” to her. And, knowing how much the program has helped her business, she also wants other local businesses to apply too.
“I'm gonna be spreading the word [about the program],” says the Merritt resident, who cares deeply for her community.
Small business owners and not-for-profit organizations can apply to the Canadian Red Cross Small Businesses and Not-for-Profits Program online until November 30, 2022.

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