Jeanette Norris lost nearly everything she owned as waves of floodwater swept through the small community of Eugowra in Central West NSW.
For the 86-year-old, the experience has also taken its toll on her emotional wellbeing.
“[When the water hit] I got out of the car and I thought I’d take a photo of it, thinking it’s not going to be a big flood,” Mrs Norris said.
“All of a sudden a wave came … and if I hadn’t moved then I would have been caught in it, in the car.”
After sharing her experience, the lifelong Eugowra local was given a puppy by a well-wisher, hoping to help her through the emotional toll of the flood.
A chance encounter with happy ending
Mrs Norris lives alone after the passing of her beloved dog Percy, just over a year ago.
In the wake of the devastating floods in mid-November, Mrs Norris went to the local museum to see how a family heirloom had fared.
There, she met Lifeline Central West’s chief executive Stephanie Robinson.
“I was very teary, and Stephanie put her arms around me and hugged me and I cried … it was very comforting,” Mrs Norris said.
As the pair spoke, Ms Robertson began to think about how she could help Mrs Norris further.
“Jeanette was telling me about Percy and what a good companion he was … I pictured her over there on her own, as a widow,” Ms Robertson said.
“I thought that a little furry friend would be just what she needed to bring a little bit of light into a pretty awful situation.”
A fluffy friend becomes family
As well as running Lifeline Central West, Ms Robinson has bred cavoodles for 19 years.
“Over those years, sometimes when a situation has touched my heart or an opportunity is presented, I’ve been able to gift puppies,” she said.
“I know from all of the many people that I stay in contact with, just the absolute joy and comfort that puppies bring.
“When you live on your own, you don’t always have someone you can have that physical contact with.
“But when you’ve got a dog to love that’s by your side all the time that is … a good distraction.”
Mrs Norris said she was extremely grateful to have Truffles in her life.
“Stephanie, out of the goodness of her heart said, ‘I will give you a puppy’,” she said.
“It’s all her hard work, rearing them, having them microchipped … paying for everything including all the vet bills.
“I can’t thank her enough.”
Mrs Norris said after the devastation brought by the floods, she was looking forward to the comfort, hope and joy Truffles the puppy would bring.
“She certainly will give us hope, and something to live for, and to carry on.”