A group of four Victorian SES volunteers touched down in Melbourne on Saturday following a three-day stint in the flood-ravaged regions of northern New South Wales.
The group formed part of a cycle of SES staff who will be deployed on the east coast over the coming weeks.
The taskforce is made up of 38 Victorian volunteers, as well as five from the Bendigo region, including community engagement facilitator (CEF) Ray Dooley.
His group flew to Coolangatta on Tuesday, before being transferred to the SES basecamp in Kingscliff.
From there, Mr Dooley and other CEFs were deployed on 12 hour shifts to some of the worst hit communities in the region.
"There was just so much despair," Mr Dooley said. "In some areas we were the first lot of uniformed members who were able to access the communities, people hadn't seen any official help yet."
The CEFs provided emergency updates to residents and support service information, as continued power outages had left residents literally in the dark.
"They really had no idea what was out there and available for them," he said. "They were still without power and telephones so they just didn't know."
For Mr Dooley, the devastation he saw in the towns is something he won't forget.
"Water had subsided mostly in the residential areas," he said, "but damage-wise it looked like a warzone.
It looked like somebody had picked up the houses and tipped them upside down.- Ray Dooley
"Everything was waterlogged, muddy and starting to grow mould due to the heat."
While the volunteers worked around the clock providing as many services as possible, Mr Dooley fears the worst is yet to come.
"Most really haven't had time to absorb what's happened," he said, "they were still all shell shocked, they haven't actually processed their thought patterns to figure out what's next."
The Bendigo volunteer said the most flood-affected areas were in lower socioeconomic groups, including in the town of Woodburn, 35 kilometres south of Lismore.
"Most people we spoke to there were on welfare," he said.
"A lot of them are renting and are now displaced, 99 percent of them did not have any form of insurance."
Mr Dooley said he spoke to one woman who emerged from her ravaged home with nothing but the clothes on her back.
"She'd lost absolutely everything," he said, "she just had what she was wearing, a pair of shorts and a t-shirt - that was incredibly hard."
"One lovely old gentleman in his late 80s and he said to me he's never seen anything like that before - he'd lost everything.
"But he turned to me and said 'son, I'm 88-years-old, but I will rebuild'."
While the devastation is significant, from beneath the mud emerged stories of amazing community strength, as towns rallied together in the face of the crisis.
Mr Dooley recalled a group of Sydney motorcyclists who travelled up and delivered food and hampers to residents in areas that couldn't be accessed by cars.
Another Sydney man came up with a boat and travelled down waterlogged streets, helping residents remove furniture and debris from their properties.
For Mr Dooley, while the devastation took a toll, he wouldn't hesitate to be redeployed.
"It was really amazing to see these people and to show them we cared about them and we were here to help," he said.
Similar to the Black Summer bushfires, there is a long road of recovery ahead for the thousands of displaced residents and communities in the region, and Mr Dooley worries the initial momentum will die down.
"The first three or four months there's a lot of money and donations around," he said, "but then it all kind of tapers off."
"Realistically, it's going to take about 18 months for the recovery from this."
If you'd like to donate to relief efforts for the NSW and QLD floods, you can head to redcross.org.au/floodsappeal.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.