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‘I just burst into tears’: Windsor residents confront flood damage as family rescued by SES

The bottom storey is engulfed but Mr Sullivan managed to salvage most things on Sunday night, including his treasured book collection.

“It’s a lifetime of books,” he said. “Novels, an old 8th-edition Encyclopaedia Britannica from the 1800s.”

Ben Sullivan retrieves a few last items before he leaves his inundated home in Windsor on Monday morning.

Ben Sullivan retrieves a few last items before he leaves his inundated home in Windsor on Monday morning.Credit:Nick Moir

The water has been a constantly rising tide.

“It’s just kept coming and coming and coming,” Mr Sullivan said.

As neighbours paddle a canoe through his backyard, he’s philosophical about the disaster, although he knows the aftermath will be hardest.

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“It’s a flood zone – it’s going to happen eventually. It’s one of those things that will hit us later. This is the easy bit I reckon, compared to cleaning up.”

Mr Sullivan, like many of his neighbours, is uninsured because he says $30,000 for flood cover is impossible to afford. “It’s just unfeasible – you can’t do it.”

But he’s confident his beautiful old house will survive this latest flood.

“This house has been through everything, even the 1867 [flood],” he said. “It should just drain away.”

About 10 kilometres away in Pitt Town, a father and son had a close call on Monday afternoon. A crew of State Emergency Service volunteers in wetsuits and helmets launched an inflatable dinghy to retrieve Oliver Sawaya and his father Henry from their flooded home.

Close call: Henry Sawaya and his son Oliver were rescued from their Pitt Town home in the nick of time.

Close call: Henry Sawaya and his son Oliver were rescued from their Pitt Town home in the nick of time.Credit:Josh Dye

“I had my car here. I was walking over there and I couldn’t get back here,” a shaken Oliver said. “It was amazing. Very scary.”

Henry blamed politicians for failing to properly manage the water levels at Warragamba Dam.

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“The level of the dam should be no more than 90 per cent,” he said. “That way they’d have a margin and a tolerance.”

But he was grateful to those who saved him from being trapped.

“They’re heroes, these guys are heroes. They’re volunteers [and] they’re putting their life on the line,” he said.

On the other side of town, Danny Sondermeyer was anxiously watching to see whether the water rising in his neighbour’s yard would reach his place. If so, he’ll evacuate to Windsor RSL.

Mr Sondermeyer has already had a doorknock from SES volunteers, while rescue helicopters regularly buzz overhead.

“I haven’t seen it like this before,” he said. “Once the reality kicks in it is pretty daunting.”

Danny Sondermeyer and son Harrison are nervously eyeing the rising river.

Danny Sondermeyer and son Harrison are nervously eyeing the rising river.Credit:Renee Nowytarger

Windsor resident Emma-Jane Garrow should be busy setting up for her daughter’s 10th birthday party – a sleepover in the backyard with some friends. Instead, she and her family are helping neighbours ahead of the worsening conditions.

The family emptied their workshed on Sunday – it is now mostly under water.

“This is all part consequence of the lifestyle we choose … it’s not a great consequence, but we have to be prepared,” Ms Garrow said. “There are an overwhelming lot of emotions flowing around here at the moment,” she said.

Emma-Jane Garrow should be celebrating her daughter’s 10th birthday, but instead the family is dealing with the floods.

Emma-Jane Garrow should be celebrating her daughter’s 10th birthday, but instead the family is dealing with the floods.Credit:Nick Moir

“There’s big community spirit and everyone is jumping in and helping out,” she said.

“We learn young around here how to help each other out.”

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