Following a four-day deluge, the previously drought-stricken and fire-ravaged landscape of the Great Lakes has been transformed into a veritable wetland as waterways overflow and floodwater lays pooled in paddocks and low-lying areas.
The rainfall figures received between Thursday evening and Monday morning far exceeded the official forecasts, with some areas being inundated with more than 200mm in a 24-hour period.
Bungwahl recorded the region's highest rainfall according to the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), receiving 500mm from 9am Thursday to 9am Monday.
Pacific Palms was a close second, receiving 447mm over the same period, while Bulahdelah recorded 301mm and Tuncurry recorded 248mm.
Considering the Great Lakes endured its worst drought on record in 2019, with just 647.6mm of rain falling in total, the heavy downpours have gone a long way to ensuring that record won't be broken in 2020.
We've been through fires, floods and another big storm system in the last two years.Greg Dodd
But so much rain in such a short period came at a cost, with the Forster Pacific Palms SES unit responding to more than 60 call-outs over the weekend.
Unit commander Greg Dodd said a number of homes were flooded in Pacific Palms, while both Failford Road and the Lakes Way at Pacific Palms were closed due to flooding on Sunday.
Several bridges across the region were also washed away.
"It was a bit worse than what we thought," Mr Dodd said.
Luckily his unit was aided by a community action team from Forster Keys and 10 members of the Australian Army, who were deployed because of the emergency flood warnings.
They helped by filling sandbags, with the SES unit going through 16 tonnes of sand as they sandbagged homes, patched leaking roofs and removed fallen trees between Tarbuck Bay and Tuncurry.
Mr Dodd said the flooding would have been much worse had the seas not settled down on Sunday evening.
But with more rain predicted, the flood-threat is not over yet.
"If the ocean comes back up and we get a whole heap of rain again, it's not going to take much to get back up," Mr Dodd said.
On the back of such an exhausting weekend, he and his team planned to finish their few remaining jobs before taking a rest in preparation for any further incidents.
"I can't speak more highly of these guys," Mr Dodd said.
"We've been through fires, floods and another big storm system in the last two years."
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With the region dropping down from Level 4 (severe) to Level 2 (high) water restrictions on Friday, February 7, MidCoast Council infrastructure and engineering services director, Rob Scott, said there were good indications that 2020 would see significantly more rain than 2019.
"The evidence is starting to show it's a different pattern we're seeing and hopefully that will continue through the year," he said.
"We've only had six days this year where there's been no rain in any of the catchments."
Mr Scott said the heavy downpours over the weekend would go a long way towards replenishing water supplies in the region, with strong flows now evident in the river systems.
However, he believed it would be a couple of weeks before the rivers were clean enough to draw water from.
The possibility of at least 5-10mm of rain per day is predicted across the Great Lakes over the next week.
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