Days after being forced from her flooding Lismore home, a traumatised Christine Devine ended up in hospital after collapsing on her friend’s floor.
“I just couldn’t move and I was shaking,” the woman told AAP after leaving hospital and returning to her house to assess the damage.
“It (her emotions) just exploded like a volcano.”
Water came close to entering the second storey of Ms Devine’s home after ex-cyclone Debbie deluged northern NSW.
Furniture is upturned, a sink has fallen, and gardens are in complete disarray at the house, which Ms Devine had been turning into a massage, healing and wellness “sanctuary”.
A stone fountain is now lodged in a spa bath, about ten metres from where it was previously located.
A sign above it reads “envious beauty”.
“The little boy’s standing there saying… ‘everything will be alright,” she said of a stone statue still standing in her back garden.
“The world is still revolving Christine, you’re not dead.”
The SES gave residents in Lismore’s south, north and CBD the all-clear to return to homes about 2:30pm on Sunday.
On Friday the Wilsons River peaked at 11.6 metres – its highest level since 1974.
Ms Devine says she lost diplomas, years’ worth of her art and hard drives full of film work. She thought her house would be protected by the town’s levee walls, which were breached as the river rose.
She told AAP she kept thinking “I hope it doesn’t, I hope it doesn’t” as the water approached.
Her canoes – one emblazoned with the word ‘Escape’ – were used to rescue two neighbours trapped by water.
She said she left the hospital after seeing people in the waiting room with physical injuries.
“I can see that there’s a lot of people worse off than me,” she said.