Many locals report to have been woken by the sound of heavy rain on their roofs about 2.30am Wednesday, but no-one could predict what would come next.
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Within an hour of the rain starting, residents started to notice flash flooding in their streets and yards.
Water was starting to seep into homes, garages and other buildings in some of the most impacted areas of the town.
Always subject to flash flooding during heavy rain, residents in Wood St and Jamieson St in particular were on high alert and were reaching out for assistance from emergency services even before the sun had fully risen.
But several other streets were also inundated, and the lagoon system - part of the town’s storm water system - had swelled to such levels that the parks surrounding them disappeared and neighbouring properties were being flooded.
Aerial images of the town taken on Wednesday morning depicted Deniliquin as a lake town, with several large puddles of water all over the community.
NSW SES Deputy Zone Commander Superintendent Scott McLennan said while the downpour could be described as patchy, all areas of Deniliquin district experienced “significant rainfall”.
He said some areas reported as little as 80mm, but that he had personally had reports of up to 140mm.
The Pastoral Times has seen images of rain gauges which record a level well in excess of the 150mm officially marked on the side of the measuring device, estimated at about 190mm.
At the Bureau of Meteorology’s official weather station at Deniliquin Airport, the amount of rain received in the 24 hours to 9am on Wednesday was recorded at 106mm.
Even this smaller, official rain tally has now become the record for the highest daily rainfall in November since 1858.
And by a significant amount - almost double in fact.
Before Wednesday, the standing record for November was a daily rainfall of 57.2mm, recorded on November 18, 1889.
Edward River Council CEO Phil Stone said Deniliquin’s storm water and traditional drainage systems just could not keep up with the deluge.
He said the storm water system still struggled after the lagoon system’s weir gates were opened at about 4am.
“Our staff had been out since 4am opening the weir gates and assisting with traffic control,” Mr Stone said.
“They have also been assisting with pumping water and responding to service calls.
“Sewers have also been impacted in some areas.
“Our customer service team has been bolstered to deal with the calls coming in and the SES initiated an incident control centre at the RFS building.
“Deniliquin is a very flat town and inherently does not drain as well as other towns due to its topography - as seen in the floods last year, with not only a rising river but substantial rainfall with localised flooding in the month of October 2022.
“This recent rainfall is unprecedented in living memory. Several people said to me they haven’t seen an event like this in the 30 or 40 years they’ve lived here.
“This was compounded by what I observed as torrential rain falling in different areas in the town.
“The heavy rain started falling at about 3am and finished around 9am, so this short space of time also exacerbated the effect.
“Our drainage infrastructure could not cope; it was simply overwhelmed and beyond its design capacity.”
As the Pastoral Times went to print yesterday, impact assessments were still being undertaken.
A small sink hole had appeared in Harfleur St Wednesday afternoon, near the Hardinge St intersection, but Mr Stone said any other lasting damage to roads would be unknown until assessments and clean ups had been completed.
While certainly not to the same level as the flood assistance required in 2022, volunteers across a number of emergency service agencies have been working around the clock to provide assistance to affected residents and businesses.
Local business owners and community members also went out into the community, offering assistance wherever they could, including providing sandbags and putting them in place.
The Pastoral Times came across one such act of kindness, when Dennis Jukes stopped in Wood St west to provide assistance to Glenn Bright and Liticia Ross whose homes had water lapping at their front doors.
Nearby to assist a family member, Kelvin Ennor also jumped in the water up to his calves to help lay the bags.
The tentative situation was worsened by the number of cars which continued to drive through the floodwater outside their homes, despite cars blocking traffic and warning signs in the road.
And this problem was not isolated to their end of Wood St, with affected residents all over town taking to social media to plead with onlookers who did not need to be on the roads to stop driving around and causing waves that forced more water into their properties.
“People are just going around and filming and taking photos when they don’t need to be and it’s just pushing the water toward our houses,” MR Bright said while trying to save his home from being inundated.
“The bow wash from passing cars is worse than the water from the rain.
“I heard the rain start about 2.30am and was awake until about 5.30am until I dozed off again. It wasn’t until I woke again at 7.30am and went to take the dog out I saw all this (the water in the street and surrounding the home).
“The water was weeping into the house so I put a towel down to stop it, but these sandbags now will really help.”
Liticia Ross lives only a few doors down from Mr Bright, closer to the Macauley St intersection.
The water was also lapping at her front door, but thankfully her home is just that little bit higher than her neighbours so the water did not get in.
But she said there were a few close calls because of the passing cars.
“I woke about 7am and went to have my normal coffee out the front, and the water was already on the step and moving fast,” she said.
“What has happened sucks, but to see the community come together is a great thing.
“That’s one thing I learned from last year’s floods too. I sandbagged last year and made a lot of new friends doing that.
“So when I put a post out this morning about my situation, people were reaching out and offering to help.”
The deluge did force the closure of some businesses who sustained water damage or roof damage as a result of the rain event.
Deniliquin’s Edward Public School was also significantly impacted and remains closed today while safety assessments continue.