Les and Laura Jones’ paddocks near Gunnedah have turned a lush, healthy green.
But the drought for country NSW communities is far from over although the Joneses have enjoyed more than 60mm of rain at their Goolhi farm since Thursday and a one-hour deluge of 92mm on January 25.
“Don’t let that fool you,” Mrs Jones told AAP on Monday.
“It’s a false green if we don’t have any more rain incoming … I’d say days and days, weeks of it before we even contemplate coming out of the drought.”
NSW’s coast copped extraordinarily high amounts of rainfall over the weekend, with Sydney recording its heaviest drenching in three decades and copping gale-force winds along the east coast to boot.
The rain filled dams, put out bushfires and helped ease drought conditions, but also caused flash flooding and millions of dollars of damage across the state.
Some areas have copped up to 700mm of rain since Wednesday, including Robertson in the Southern Highlands which saw 698mm, and Pottsville in the northern rivers region hit by more than 600mm.
The rain has fallen on parts of drought-stricken NSW, including the northwest slopes, which received up to 100mm in the past few days.
“That’s more rain than they have seen in quite a few years,” NSW Bureau of Meteorology acting manager Jane Golding said.
But not all farmers and rural communities had been blessed with rain.
NSW Farmers in a statement on Monday said the big wet had lifted many farmers’ spirits, particularly those in livestock and some crop farming, but it had been patchy across the state’s central west.
“They (governments) think, oh well, we’ve had some inches of rain now, let’s call the drought quits. Well, no, let’s not,” Mrs Jones said.
“Otherwise we’re going to end up in the same place we were 18 months ago.”
The RFS says the rain helped firefighters extinguish more than 30 fires, some of which had been burning for months, including the destructive Gospers Mountain megablaze northwest of Sydney and the Currowan blaze which ripped through the south.
Emergency Services Minister David Elliott said 17 fires were still burning in NSW on Monday, all at the lowest alert level.
Sydney, meanwhile, experienced its highest multiday rainfall figures since February 1990, with up to 400mm soaking the Central Coast, greater Sydney and Blue Mountains combined from 9am on Friday to 5pm on Sunday.
Strong winds also wreaked havoc on the coast where waves peaked at 10m and high tides caused extensive flooding and erosion.
Four people were hospitalised on Sunday after a tree fell on their car in the Sydney CBD, and a 16-year-old boy was treated for broken ribs after being trapped between debris in the Hunter’s Allyn River.
Water from the Georges River also inundated Milperra and Liverpool in western Sydney early on Monday, the NSW State Emergency Service said.
River levels at Milperra are now higher than during the 1988 flood and major flooding is affecting other areas such as Warwick Farm and Chipping Norton.
Utility companies are rushing to restore power in swamped regions, with more than 79,000 Ausgrid customers, primarily in northern Sydney and the NSW Central Coast, without power on Monday afternoon.
About 11,200 Endeavour Energy customers are also without power.
The SES responded to about 10,000 calls for help and carried out multiple rescues of people trapped by rising rivers and floodwaters.
Sydney’s parched dams are also filling up, with Warragamba Dam at more than 60 per cent capacity, surging from about 45 per cent last week.