For the cities of Murwillumbah and Lismore, on the Tweed and Richmond Rivers, flood waters have receded enough that the massive clean-up can begin, while on the Clarence a bull from Baryulgil swam to Copmanhurst and made it alive over the Gorge falls.
However, on the quiet floodplain of the Mid-Richmond, muddy waters remain above major flood level and have done so for six days following inundation.
Stories are emerging of heroic survival, one couple from Swan Bay via Woodburn huddled in a little dinghy and anchored to their kikuyu after abandoning the house, on its 1:100 year flood mound. The sound of lowing cattle swimming around them remains a haunting memory.
Another from North Woodburn laughed when the cat, floating on a leather lounge, jumped from its perch to shit on a drifting cupboard before leaping back on is nest. But it wasn't so funny standing knee deep on the kitchen table as waters rose with frightening rapidity.
"I was never so glad to see daylight," the survivor recalled.
It remains far too soon to tell what the real damage to agriculture will be but the loss of so many cattle with milk-fat weaners on the teat will be heartbreaking.
In 1954 the district was home to dairy cattle, one family for every 20 milkers, and the morning after when the people were standing on McDonalds Hill, as they were on Rileys Hill, all they could hear was the lowing of their cows.
In 1974, now the second highest flood in Lismore's history, producers couldn't sell because of the market crash and might have been relieved to be rid of them and allow their paddocks to spring back.
In 2022, with investment in the cattle industry at record highs, and the value of progeny never better, the pain of losing numbers really stings.
On the lower Tweed, Richmond and Clarence the amount of loss will be almost total. Further up the catchment beans that emerged from floodwaters quick enough look pretty good. Mid January planted Hayman at Clovass, for instance, will survive. Showers last week and again on Sunday have worked well to clean silt from green leaves.
Soybean processor Ross Larsson, Mara Global Foods has spent the past week organising teams of cleaners at affected locations in Casino, Lismore and Mullumbimby, teaming up with rugby union players and communicating through WhatsApp, the technology of choice in the MGF factory at Shannonbrook.
While acknowledging the loss of crops on low country, he remained confident of being able to supply buyers with enough product.
"We have contingencies in place and now it's a matter of sorting how to work through it but no one truly knows anything yet until the floodwaters subside fully and then we have a plan, Mr Larsson said. "I am confident MGF and all of its customers will be have supply for this year and then we can help our affected suppliers have a market for next season. But there is a lot of hurt out there. I have been working in Mullumbimby and Bexhill and Lismore with the flood relief cleaning up and on-the-ground-people need to hear some positivity."
For the same reasons it is too soon to know how floodplain-planted macadamia trees are faring, although their tops look green. The sooner water gets off their feet the better.
One crop that looks particularly good is two-year old sugar cane, able to handle wet feet for a while and benefiting from cool cloudy day since the flood peak.
"Sugar can is a grass. It can handle flood, especially two-year old," noted NSW Sugar Milling chairman Jim Sneesby, spotted on his tractor clearing the public road near Broadwater. Rumours that sugar mills at Broadwater and Condong were badly damaged wasn't true, he said, with pumps raised above 2017 heights at Condong, and 2022 didn't rise quiet as high at that Tweed River location.
In the sizeable 2008 flood, by comparison, the hot January days that followed cooked the floodplain and turned vegetation black. The de-oxygenated water that drifted downstream to kill all fish and invertebrates.
Meanwhile, the river townships of Coraki, Woodburn and Broadwater remain under water.
NSW fire crews only reached Coraki for the first time on Saturday driving from Casino, while the road to Woodburn remains under water. Residents were hoping to get into Woodburn for the first time on Sunday by driving through floodwaters. At Broadwater a monumental clean-up is underway, although without town water to chase the silt out of the house, the task will be tougher still.
In the 1954 flood school children puts roofing tin on rafts of hyacinth and floated down the highway, just inches beneath their craft. This flood went up to the second storey.
The brand new $5 billion Pacific Motorway between Ballina and Woolgoolga was underwater along 60km and will emerge last at New Italy, which is affected by water from the Bungawalbyn catchment - notorious for its slow-drain.
Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway said Transport for NSW have been able to get crews on the ground assessing, clearing and carrying out immediate repairs to see large sections of the road reopened.
"Our focus is prioritising safety for all road users, while our crews assess the damage and re-open the roads and rail lines that will keep essential goods moving," Mr Faraway said.
"We have been able open an alternative route between Sydney and Brisbane for heavy vehicles via an inland route leaving the M1 at Grafton via Casino, Lismore and rejoining the M1 just to the north of Ballina.
"We continue to work closely with our freight partners to get freight routes opened and supplies to communities as major flooding continues to affect the State.
"Where it is safe to do so we are escorting heavy vehicles through closed roads to ensure they can reach communities in need of food and emergency supplies."
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