Hayley Carter had made her decision. And when the SES arrived at her door, like most of her neighbours, she told them she would stay, an answer they were satisfied with.
After all, even the biggest flood the region had ever seen had not reached within a foot of the house.
At 10.30pm, she decided to move the kids, the car and some belongings to her partner's house on higher ground, just in case the roads were cut off.
She was comfortable leaving her two greyhounds, Darla who she adopted through the Greyhound As Pets Northern Rivers' Program, and Pete, at the house, knowing the water would never reach the house, and expecting to be back to see them soon.
But the floodwaters surged in South Lismore.
"You knew by about 1am that this was not going to be like anything before," Hayley said.
"It was so hard knowing they [the greyhounds] were there, but we couldn't get back through on the roads. We just had to hope they would be ok and the water wouldn't rise too far.
"By the morning, once you realised what had happened to the town and how high it had come up, you think the worst.
"My neighbour sent me a photo looking towards our house. It was chest high inside the house. She was devastated because she could hear the dogs, but there was no way she could get to them.
"It was heartbreaking telling the kids the dogs were probably gone."
At midday Hayley took a call from the vet at nearby Goonellabah telling her Pete was there but he was hypothermic.
"He was not in a great way. I thought I was going to have to make a decision on him that day," she said.
"He had actually swum out passed my neighbour who was trapped in her house. She tried to call him in but the current was so strong and she saw him go under and she thought he was gone.
"But the neighbours two doors up grabbed him and pulled him in, and it just so happened the tinnie owners who were out saving people, arrived in the street at that moment. They took him to safety but he was in shock and had a seizure.
"They said when they reached the road, he was as good as dead. But a policewoman was there and she put him in the paddy wagon and took him to the vet. Amazingly, he came good that night and somehow made a complete recovery."
But where was Darla? Adding to the concern was a week earlier she had been bitten by a pitbull and the wound required stitches. She was protective of it and had not wanted to stand very often.
"We couldn't get back to the house for a couple of days. We thought she was gone," said Hayley.
"My neighbour messaged to say the road was opened and asked if I wanted them to see if Darla is there.
"She went in and in the first room, Darla was there, up on top of the loft bed. At some point she had gone into that room and made her way up onto the bed, somehow, and she was totally fine.
"I couldn't believe it, and they are both great now. They are the most adorable dogs, and we're so lucky that they somehow were able to escape this disaster relatively unscathed.
"Like many we lost nearly everything, but this remarkable story, just keeps us going."
This article was produced as part of an ACM partnership with Greyhound Racing NSW.
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