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,” Ms Devine told AAP after returning to her house to assess the damage.
“It (her emotions) just exploded like a volcano.”
The SES gave Lismore residents the all-clear to return to homes and businesses in the town’s CBD, north and south on Sunday afternoon.
Mayor Isaac Smith described the town as akin to a war zone and the Rural Fire Service has set up a base camp for hundreds of workers to help with the clean up nearby.
Water came close to entering the second storey of Ms Devine’s home after ex-cyclone Debbie soaked northern NSW.
Furniture is upturned and gardens are in complete disarray at the house, which Ms Devine had been turning into a massage, healing and wellness “sanctuary”.
The road to Murwillumbah in the north is littered with washed away cars and debris from landslides.
Towers of rubbish line Murwillumbah’s streets.
Water went to the ceiling of Cheyenne Walsh’s floristry on the outskirts of town.
She’s not insured and will close her business permanently.
“To be honest I actually haven’t thought about it (what to do afterwards),” she told AAP.
“We’ll just do the clean up and see what we can savour.”
Two women have been killed by NSW floodwaters after ex-cyclone Debbie dumped heavy rainfall on large parts of the state.
It’s still being determined how a man, whose body was found after flooding at a South Murwillumbah caravan park, died.
A 46-year-old man also died at his Murwillumbah home, but it is understood he had not entered the floodwaters.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian are set to see the damage in flood-hit regions of northern NSW first-hand on Monday.
Ms Berejiklian has urged residents to be patient as the damage is assessed.
“This is a huge catastrophe,” she said in Sydney.
“This is a massive, massive natural disaster.”
According to the SES, about 15,000 properties were isolated by floodwater, and about double that were subject to evacuation orders.
The small Aboriginal community of Cabbage Tree Island was evacuated as the water rushed downstream on Saturday.
The SES will focus on the clean-up effort in badly hit areas on Monday.