MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) –  One year after vandals and looters damaged more than 1,000 Twin Cities businesses, hope is growing from the ashes.

Someone set Flora Hair Design, along West Broadway in north Minneapolis, on fire during the riots that followed George Floyd’s murder. Flora Westbrooks, who owns the salon, says her place was burned to the ground on May 29, 2020, leaving her with nothing.

Flora Hair Design had been a north Minneapolis pillar since 1985, and Westbrooks had been doing haircuts and styles for generations of families.

After the fires, many businesses in the neighborhood moved on and left, but Westbrooks refused and chose to rebuild instead with the help of strangers.

“I was willing to do whatever it took for me to come back. I wasn’t giving up,” said Westbrooks, who started a GoFundMe account shortly after the fire to help her rebuild. It quickly raised over $250,000.

“It’s overwhelming. I got so much, so much support from all over the world,” said Westbrooks.

With that money she was able to buy out the other owner that shared the lot with her. On Thursday, she closed on her new lot, now triple the size of what she once owned, and completely under her name.

“Juliana, my lawyer, said, ‘What do you want to name it?’ and I said, ‘Flora’s Land – because it’s never been called Flora’s Land, so now it’s Flora’s Land,'” said Westbrooks.

Westbrooks is filled with joy over the chance to rebuild, but at one point she felt heartbroken and confused over why a fight for racial justice led to the destruction of black owned businesses.

“I felt bad for George Floyd and his family, but I still felt so violated,” said Westbrooks. “I had been here all these years. Right to this day, I don’t believe it was no one in my community did this.”

Westbrooks has the lot, now she needs the building. She’s hoping generosity continues to help her rebuild her salon.

You can contribute to the same GoFundMe account used to buy back her land by clicking here.

Marielle Mohs