AS the murky floodwaters retreat in Gunnedah, a community is mourning what's been lost.
Precious memories, belongings, and years of hard work have all been swept away in the worst flood the community has seen in almost 40 years.
Gunnedah local Lauren Mackley said a foot of water tore through her house on Rosemary Street on Sunday, forcing her whole family to access emergency accommodation.
While she's had huge personal losses, it's the long-term and compounded impacts on the community she fears most.
"We were staying at my sister's house, but there is ten people and two dogs there so we decided we needed to access emergency accommodation," she said.
"We needed space as a family to grieve the fact that we've lost a huge part of our home, and a massive part of everything we've worked for."
Ms Mackley said accessing accommodation in a community being crippled by a housing shortage has been tough, but the town has banded together to come up with their own solutions, even paying to house strangers out of their own pockets.
"The first inkling I had of how bad it was when the water was at 8.3 [metres] on Sunday and it was still rising," she said.
"As a little neighbourhood we ended up meeting on the corner and started to realise there were a lot of vulnerable people who had no housing options.
"So we started to get on the service roundabout. We spent over seven hours on the phone trying to access some kind of accommodation in Gunnedah for a couple who were sleeping in their car."
With the number of people displaced rising, the Department of Communities and Justice became involved and a community evacuation centre was opened at the basketball stadium at Gunnedah Showground at 2pm on Sunday afternoon.
State Emergency Service (SES) Superintendent Mitch Parker said up to ten people registered, but due people "not needing to stay" at the centre, it was closed.
Ms Mackley said locals were told it would only be open for three hours, so by 3pm they had found alternative options.
"A three hour evacuation centre is a joke, to have people paying for accommodation out of their own pocket and trying to get reimbursed is an insult," she added.
"At the end of the day this is another instance of Gunnedah being left behind. And what will happen after this? We will have an increase of people with no emergency accommodation.
"We will have a homelessness epidemic because their homes have been destroyed and then we will have compounded issues such as mental health and physical issues of people being sick in this water, but we have no doctors, we have no healthcare systems.
"This just becomes a worse and worse cycle where people who are already disadvantaged continue to be disenfranchised. "
Gunnedah local Amelia Williams said floodwaters inundated her home on Little Conadilly Street, which luckily is on stilts, but the damage was still widespread.
"We initially rang the SES on Monday wanting to prepare with sandbags, but were reassured the water would not hit the house and were left without supplies," she said.
"It was a bit disheartening and sad. After it receded the first time, it came back the second time much bigger, but everything was already wet so there was not much we could do about it by then.
"We've lost furniture, my partner's motorbike, tools and we've been scraping mud all day."
Just up the road, Kristy Gordon and her five children were home when the floodwater hit on Sunday, leaving all her children's Christmas presents destroyed.
"I lost my car, I lost my washing machine, my kids' clothes, everything," she said.
"I've lived in Gunnedah for 17 years and this is the first ever flood I've been in."
Locals say the community has banded together to help each other out, with businesses such as Hennessy Real Estate handing out food hampers.
When asked about available emergency assistance and what further help would be provided, Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson said anyone in need of urgent crisis accommodation can call Link2Home on 1800 152 152 or Gunnedah Family Support on 6742 2967.
"Any individuals affected by floods in the Gunnedah shire can now access financial support by contacting Service NSW on 13 77 88 and asking about the Disaster Relief Grant administered by Resilience NSW," he said.
If anyone is in urgent need of supplies and remains impacted by flooding, the SES is here to help and can be contacted on 132 500.
The Department of Communities and Justice was contacted for comment.
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