The people of Eugowra went to bed on Sunday to the sound of a heavy downpour, as they had many times this year.
By Monday morning 120mm of rain had fallen, sparking sudden and intense flash flooding that left the central western NSW village in ruins.
"It's almost like a tidal wave hit town," local Therese Welsh told AAP.
"There was just so much rain."
The State Emergency Service said 150 people were plucked to safety from rooftops in Eugowra and Molong on Monday, with 11 helicopters flying them to Orange.
Mrs Welsh's husband and son were involved in the rescues and recovery.
"It's being described as a warzone," she said.
"There's so much destruction - homes have just been washed away."
Many residents have described two enormous surges of water rushing through town from the swollen Mandagery Creek, even inundating homes built on stilts.
Mrs Welsh said the deluge had nowhere to go due to the already flooded Lachlan River.
"It was like the water had waves. That's how fast it was running."
John Gooden's property, on Eugowra's western side, was spared. He drove to Parkes to stock up on supplies after power, water and communications went down.
Mr Gooden, who lived through Cyclone Tracy in Darwin in 1974, said the scale of flooding shocked many.
"It's just the suddenness and the ferocity of it," he said.
"It's demolished everything in its path."
Tommy Jeffs, who runs Montrose House accommodation in Canowindra, southeast of Eugowra, was also taken by surprise when the SES knocked on his door at 3am on Monday.
"At that time, it could only be bad news," he said, adding water had reached the doors of his parked car before dawn.
He said about five nearby homes were destroyed or badly damaged.
"I've got a mate who lost everything.
"He was watching TV about 11 o'clock on Sunday night and one of his neighbours called him to say they'd all been evacuated."
Mr Jeffs' back room was damaged and he lost a shed full of Christmas decorations, which he would usually use to decorate the main street.
"It's all replaceable, it's material stuff."
The local Rugby teams have been helping clean up since the early hours of Monday.
"The great thing about Australians is the fact people actually give a shit and turn up to help," Mr Jeffs said.
"With water and mud, nothing comes back.
"I've lost paintings and photos - that's sad because they're your memories but everything else is replaceable."
Flooding has also devastated the village of Cudal, between Canowindra and Molong, where water has swept into shops and houses and through acreages.
In Forbes, further west, residents were told to evacuate early Tuesday morning, with the weather bureau warning of a peak similar to that of the historic 1952 floods.
The town, which sits on the Lachlan River, was hit by major floods a fortnight ago.
Therese Newell said the water came up Johnson Street, a main thoroughfare, very quickly.
"It will certainly be bigger than what we had two weeks ago. There is a lot of water around."
Ms Newell said residents are always ready because Forbes sits on a flood plain.
"Nevertheless, people just got back into their homes after the last flood.
"People are tired."