Stuck in Vermont: Two Months After the Flood, Alexis Dexter Rebuilds Kitty Korner Café in Barre and Continues to Rescue Cats | Stuck in Vermont | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Stuck in Vermont: Two Months After the Flood, Alexis Dexter Rebuilds Kitty Korner Café in Barre and Continues to Rescue Cats

Episode 697

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Published September 7, 2023 at 7:30 a.m.


Alexis Dexter opened Forget Me Not Flowers and Gifts in 2016 on a busy corner in downtown Barre. In 2020, she started Kitty Korner Café next door, Vermont’s first — and only — kitty café. Cats are transported from the southern U.S., and more than 750 have been adopted since the café opened. After making it through the pandemic, both popular spots were a big part of Barre’s revitalization.

There were 57 rescue cats in the lounge on Monday, July 10, when it began to rain hard across the state. Unprecedented flooding followed as downtown Barre was deluged with rain. As the water crept up outside the shop doors that face North Main Street, Dexter and her staff moved the terrified cats into carriers and placed them up high. The floodwaters rose so quickly that it was impossible to evacuate the cats to another location. As streams of rainwater poured through the closed doors and began to inundate both shops, Dexter acted quickly. She used a screwdriver and a hammer to make two holes in the floor, diverting the water to the 7-foot-tall basement, and the kitties were saved. Once the floodwaters receded, the cats were relocated to foster homes within four hours.

Dexter went viral in national media after her story got out — but her basement was filled with water. She lost a brand-new washer and dryer, an HVAC system, hot-water heaters, an electric panel, and thousands of dollars’ worth of supplies for the cats. Then a leak from her neighbor’s space spilled diesel oil into her basement, which required hazardous materials remediation. Both businesses had significant water damage and black mold. Dexter started a GoFundMe campaign for the shelter and raised over $22,000. She has been working with volunteers to rebuild the space and estimates that she has spent about $55,000 so far. The flower shop never shut down; Dexter filled three orders for funerals on July 11, the day after the flooding.

Dexter has help at the two shops from her mom, Jo-Ann Dexter, her grandmother Maggie Dexter and Linda Bedard. The women stay busy and entertain each other while making bouquets and hand-feeding newborn kittens. Seven Days senior multimedia producer Eva Sollberger filmed an episode about the café in 2021 and visited the Dexters again on a recent Saturday afternoon to see the work in progress — and get a kitty fix from the 27 felines who have returned to the café. Dexter hopes to reopen soon and needs volunteers, supplies and donations. Follow her social media and GoFundMe campaign for updates.

Filming date: 8/26/23

Music: Unicorn Heads, “Nine Lives”

This episode of Stuck in Vermont was supported by New England Federal Credit Union.

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