Flood Series: Bowness’s Laundry Fairy one year later


To mark the one year anniversary of the worst flooding in Southern Alberta’s history, we’re sharing a series of stories on the work that immediately followed. We saw community superheroes emerge, working together to ensure all citizens were safe, cared for and receiving the help they needed.

Last year, we shared the story of one particularly resourceful volunteer, the Laundry Fairy (a.k.a. Nadine Gamache and her children) – and her story went viral. We returned to see what has changed in the last 365 days. It wasn’t surprising to hear that with last year’s stash of facecloths and laundry baskets on hand, they hope nothing like this ever happens again, but are ready to jump in at a moment’s notice.

”Every time we drive over a river [my kids] ask if it is going to flood again. We are ready to play Laundry Fairy/Facecloth Fairy if we have to this year; fingers crossed we don’t.”

Though no one wishes the flood to happen again, Nadine says the small-town-esque camaraderie that spread across the city last year touched her, solidifying a community connection that couldn’t be broken.

“Neighbourhoods, groups, organizations, teams all came together as small groups, but the addition of all these groups turned into something really big.”

To the Laundry Fairy being good to your community doesn’t necessarily mean donating money or time when things are rough. It means taking the time to thoughtfully give back all year round.

“It really does just take two seconds of your time to make someone’s day. If everyone is cognizant of that and takes the time to offer whatever they can, it makes for a good neighbourhood, community and city.

“Everyone has something different to offer. Yes, financial support is definitely needed in cases like the flooding of 2013, but everyone has something to offer non-financially too I believe.  Some people have a definite, useful, skill set to contribute and some people, even if all they offer are kind words and encouragement, have offered something important too.”

Take a page out of the Laundry Fairy manual and strengthen your community in any capacity you can this weekend – especially Neighbour Day on June 21. Whether that means donating to your community association, volunteering your time or sharing a few kind words, you have the power to make our community a little bit stronger.

Jodi Egan is a freelance writer and photographer. She wrote the original Laundry Fairy story in July 2013 while interning with United Way.

Continue reading our Flood Series: