Voices recalling the urgent alerts, issued in the middle of the night, that water was coming evoke some of the extraordinary experience of living through the 1955 flood at Dubbo.
Sleep was disturbed as both the Macquarie and Talbragar rivers burst their banks after a deluge of rain and Dubbo's central and northern streets became waterways in the early hours of February 26, 1955.
Community members who with neighbours bore the brunt of the great natural disaster shared their memories with Macquarie Regional Library's Oral History Project.
Together with photos, the reminiscences record the impact of the 1955 flood on Dubbo and the wider western NSW region and ensure it's captured for posterity.
Library local studies officer Simone Taylor reports the collection that deals with the event she considers "the major disaster" to occur at Dubbo has grown of recent years.
Added to "an amazing collection of photographs" and original newspapers has been a new set of primary sources.
"We've had some great pictures come in over the years, but another thing we've been doing is some oral history interviews," she said.
"So we've got some really lovely first-hand accounts of what certain people and families experienced during that event, which we didn't have before."
In an interview for the project, long-time Dubbo businesswoman Helen McLean recalled a flood that rose quickly overnight.
Hours later as a young child she was carrying items upstairs while the ovens of her family's bakery in Talbragar Street collapsed, bread tins "floating past".
A few blocks away Albert Cook, a young motor mechanic, was pulling up carpet in the family home on the corner of Macquarie and Cobra streets and putting furniture on blocks in an attempt to protect it.
Ms Taylor said the project revealed unique insights.
"A lot of the people we were talking to were young people at the time the flood came through, so it's their experiences as a young person and how they responded," she said.
"One of our interviewees was only eight or nine at the time of the flood, so her memories are very much how a child would respond to a flood and it's absolutely fascinating to hear some of these stories, which you would never hear in any other context."
The 202.2 mm of rain recorded at the Bureau of Meteorology's Darling Street station on February 24, 1955 remains the highest daily total in the city's recorded history.
"Dubbo's had many floods over the years, as people are probably aware, but the '55 flood was quite exceptional, and not just for Dubbo, the whole of western NSW was flooded," Ms Taylor said.
"Pretty much every major river system in NSW flooded during that '55 flood, so towns and communities across the west were completely cut off."
Ms Taylor cites official figures showing that across NSW 25 people lost their lives during the event and that at Dubbo about 4000 people were temporarily homeless after the flood.
It took months to repair damage to bridges, roads, railways, telephone lines, fences and other infrastructure.
The local studies officer makes the case for knowing what happened in the past.
"So I think it's important to understand what happened in the flood, how the town responded to it, and what the outcomes of the flood long-term for the town, which were, I think, significant," she said.
"A good example of a long-term consequence that we're still experiencing today is the construction of Burrendong Dam was under way during the flood, and because of the impact of the flood, they actually changes the planning for the dam and included flood mitigation into it, which hadn't existed before.
"And I think today probably we're still benefitting from some of those changes."
More interviews from the library's project are available on its website.