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"When the rains came": This heartbreaking 1960s Women's Weekly cover story is a tragic mirror image of New South Wales right now

A heartbreaking reality, our thoughts are with everyone affected.

By Jess Pullar
As days of torrential rain continue throughout the state of New South Wales, and now Queensland, many rural areas are facing a tragedy no one should ever have to endure.
Homes, livelihoods and livestock have been wiped out as a result of the floods, which have swept across communities including Richmond, Pitt Town, those along the Hawkesbury River and the Lower Blue Mountains. The list is only growing.
The toughest part at the time of writing this article is that no one can yet quantify or confirm the extent of the damage, with rain forecast to continue.
Soon, we hope there will be a clear path out and onwards for these communities, with ways we can tangibly support them (at the moment, you can donate via GIVIT here).
A man surveys floods in McGraths Hill, New South Wales. (Getty)
This kind of natural disaster is not unfamiliar to Australians, though that doesn't make it any less difficult to endure once again.
Some have likened it to floods which ravaged the Windsor region in 1990, others have said this is a once in a generation event.
Today, The State Library of New South Wales' official Instagram account shared an incredible vintage cover of The Australian Women's Weekly from 1961, when the Nepean River flooded.
"Our thoughts are with those affected by the floods in many parts of NSW. Stay safe," the caption from the State Library read. ⁣
As per the adjoining article dated December 6, 1961, the scenes were described much like the image of what is happening right now.
"Lives were in danger and thousands of people faced disaster and heartbreak as the waters rose in and around their homes. Everywhere, their more fortunate neighbours and rescue squads came to their aid in boats and canoes.
"Wading waist-deep, they helped to empty threatened houses of furniture, bed clothes, television sets, and other belongings until the emergency passed."
A 1961 cover of The Australian Women's Weekly captured devastating floods on the Nepean River. (The Australian Women's Weekly)
In a second image of a rooster sitting atop a street sign, which is surrounded by water, the caption explained: "Happy Orpington sought safety on an outing board at Riverstone when the hen-house flooded. Then it drifted till stopped by a street sign. The photographer brought the shivering refugee ashore."
This rooster floated until stopped by a road sign - it was saved by the photographer. (The Australian Women's Weekly)
In a second image, the article explained that furniture was saved "from the muddy flood waters in Railway Parade, Riverstone. The level was rising fast when this picture was taken. Four hundred Riverstone people left their homes for several days until the flood subsided."
Families scrambled to save furniture from their homes. (The Australian Women's Weekly)
Australian TV personality Edwina Bartholomew shared the State Library's Instagram post with her own words of support for affected communities.
"Stay safe and look out for one another," she wrote.

As we survey the damage and process what has happened, no matter where you are in Australia, we look to those affected.
We rallied when the bushfires tore through rural townships in January 2020, and we can do the same now as floodwaters cause similar chaos and destruction.
While many social drives, fundraisers and campaigns are undoubtedly in the works as these towns look to repair in the aftermath, for now, the best way to help and donate is via the Government affiliated channel GIVIT, as mentioned above, which lists specific items needed in the worst hit communities, as well as providing a channel for funds to be donated.

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