The sun was shining in Windsor when the Gazette spoke with Emma-Jane Garrow on Thursday afternoon, the brightness a momentary reprieve for Windsor Peninsula residents after days of back-breaking work to prepare their properties for the Hawkesbury River flood.
And though former Hawkesbury Councillor Ms Garrow's backyard was under water, ruining 12 months of landscaping she and her family had undertaken since the last flood ruined it in March 2021, Ms Garrow was "on a positive".
"It's been a rollercoaster," Ms Garrow said. "Everyone's taking a bit of a reprieve right now.
"We were all prepared for the 14 metres height, and now it's looking like it will peak tonight at 12.2.
"I didn't think any of us would be excited about a 12.2-metre flood, but the difference that extra two metres makes is astronomical."
The Bureau of Meteorology has downgraded its advice that the Hawkesbury River at Windsor would reach 14 metres on Thursday, and Flood Warning Number: 17 said that the river at Windsor may peak at 12.2 metres with major flooding on Thursday evening, with an extended and higher flood peak possible.
I didn't think any of us would be excited about a 12.2-metre flood, but the difference that extra two metres makes is astronomical.- Emma-Jane Garrow
Ms Garrow and other residents along the Hawkesbury River have struggled through three floods in the last three years.
Ms Garrow grew up on the floodplain - "It's not my first rodeo" - but that doesn't mean flood preparation can't be made easier, she said.
"My parents were originally from Riverstone, so we knew what we were in for and we knew how to deal with it. We have a great plan and we have the resources available, but sadly a lot of people don't," she said.
"This is something a lot of independent councillors have been fighting for, to get a tighter emergency plan ready. It's not happening, and we're not educating our community to look after themselves."
She said the Windsor Peninsular community was "frustrated" with the "lack of resources available to us".
"We were screaming for sandbags from 8am on Wednesday and everyone went out and sourced their own. A publicly available sandbagging station wasn't made available until 4.30pm Wednesday, and by that time it was too late - we needed more resources on the ground a lot earlier. By the time 4.30pm hit, we had most of the work done and the exhaustion is profuse."
Ms Garrow's home is safe, but said she felt for her neighbours whose homes were in water.
"We lost new landscaping, fencing, irrigation and lighting, but that's completely and utterly insignificant in comparison to our neighbours homes which are completely underwater," she said.
"One of my girlfriends put in her new kitchen last week and now it's underwater."
She said when new tenants and homeowners moved in to Windsor Peninsula houses, the community got together to help them with their flood plan to ensure they knew what to expect, to make it a little easier to deal with when the waters inevitably rose.