A Port Stephens SES volunteer who was out helping flood and rain victims on the first day of the devastating east coast low weather event returned to his Nelson Bay home to find it completely inundated from the deluge.
Malcolm Smith, a landscaper and engineer who has been volunteering his time with Tomaree SES for the past 18 months, said that the whole family was still coming to terms with the catastrophic event.
He described the feeling of seeing years of renovations ruined before his eyes as "heartbreaking".
"I had been called out early on the first day [Thursday, March 18] of the storm, so I phoned in to work to tell them I would not be coming in. We had been attending a job at Shoal Bay when I returned to the truck to find up to 50 missed calls on my phone ," Mr Smith said.
"There were a couple from my wife [Chantelle], including a text message, so I rang back to the news that our home had been flooded.
"I couldn't believe it at first, but by the time I had returned home the water was streaming inside the house."
For Chantelle, the incident seemed like a nightmare.
"I was alerted by our son who began screaming that water was coming into the house. I raced out the back and within two minutes the entire home was inundated."
The Smiths grabbed towels in an attempt to held back the torrent but it was of no use.
"The entire home was under water."
With the help of fellow SES workers they managed to sandbag the back of the home but most of the damage had already been done.
The Smiths purchased the Pirralea Parade home in 2016 and immediately began renovating.
"We had spent the last five years renovating the property both inside and outside and now the place is a shambles. It's very disheartening to see all that blood, sweat, tears and money just washed away."
The Smiths say they have lost almost everything - furniture, flooring, clothes and most appliances.
The power had to be cut off and the young family - the Smiths have two children Jasper, Skyler, aged 2, and 5-year-old Jasper - was evacuate and forced to find temporary accommodation.
"At first, we were told to expect to be away from home for four weeks, now we are being told it could be up to 16 weeks before we can return home."
Mr Smith said that fortunately the home and contents were insured for flooding and that the family was anxiously "waiting to hear from the assessors".
"In the meantime we have been told we cannot do anything to the home," he said.
The Smiths say they also contacted Port Stephens Council about the flooding incident and the route the water took before devastating their property, and were also waiting on a response.
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