There’s never a good time to have your house burn down, but the day before Christmas — in the middle of the decade’s worst windstorm — is not a great time.
That’s what happened to Salt Spring Island resident Edwina Badan. She said the community — and the storm — were her silver lining in the whole experience.
“In a weird way, having the power outage was a blessing in disguise,” Badan said.
“Had there not been a power outage, who knows, maybe we would have been sleeping in our beds.”
Thanks to the power outage, no one was home when the house burst into flames. Badan was staying at the resort where she works when her landlord called her to tell her the news. She said that at first, she thought he was joking.
Since then, Badan said the Salt Spring Island community has jumped into a whirlwind of action, with everybody from close friends to complete strangers bringing gifts, offering food and setting up fundraisers to help.
When Salt Spring Island resident Lisa Sigurgeirson heard what had happened, she sprang into action and went around to local businesses to canvas for help.
“Anybody who had a management person in the store when we went on the 24th, they were giving bags of things,” Sigurgeirson said.
“Everybody who overheard me was handing me $10 and $20 bills towards the cause.”
Sigurgeirson said even amidst the windstorm that has kept the whole island in the dark for a week, everybody has jumped at the opportunity to help.
On the drive back from collecting items, Sigurgeirson’s brother Steve said: “This is the most selfless thing I’ve ever done, and it feels really good.”
Badan is overwhelmed by the help she’s been getting from Salt Spring Islanders.
“I’m flabbergasted. I’m completely overwhelmed by the outpour of support from complete strangers,” she said.
“My heart is just brimming with… well, I don’t know what it is, but I’ll put it into words one day. Write a book.”
In fact, Badan was writing a book — but it was on her laptop, which was lost in the fire along with Christmas presents, clothes and almost everything she owned.
For now, she says she’s focused on getting through the next two weeks — and then finding somewhere to live.
Her house was rented to her at an affordable price, but she said she’s not sure she’ll be able to afford anything on the island with housing prices at the moment.
She doesn’t want to think about leaving the Island, where she’s lived for 20 years.
“They say Salt Spring Island, you don’t pick it — it picks you,” said Badan.
Friends have set up a GoFundMe to help Badan with expenses.
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