A feature of the great 1955 flood was the hundreds of people who descended on Maitland to help in its hour of need.
Among them was David Russell, a 20-year-old university student from Epping who was spending his summer on National Service at the RAAF base at Rathmines.
David was an aircraftsman, the equivalent of an army private, and he was not enjoying his training.
It consisted of a lot of marching and not much that was useful to somebody wanting to learn how to defend an airfield.
The call for help came on the morning of 24 February: the flood was going to be a big one.
David and a dozen others, grateful to escape the monotony at Rathmines, piled onto a truck and headed to Maitland.
They were immediately deployed on raising and relocating furniture for people living near the CBD.
Items like heavy Crossley Shelvadore fridges were either raised in situ or trucked across the river to Lorn.
The men worked for about 15 hours on their first day, but at about 4am on 25 February the river burst its bank near the Court House.
That ended the furniture-protecting work.
Severe flooding occurred near the Court House.
Some terrace dwellings across High St collapsed, and to the east a Woolworths store on the river side of the street was another casualty: it had shelving about seven feet above floor level onto which items could be lifted when a flood threatened.
The water burst through the back door and built up deep inside before the front door blew out and the stacked items were washed away. Nearby, a scour hole swallowed a truck.
David and company relocated to the Maitland Public School, where many residents were refugees camping in the classrooms.
There the aircraftsmen stayed, setting up a first aid station where people had cut feet bandaged and other injuries treated.
One episode stands out in David's memory from the three or four days he spent at the school.
A woman, heavily pregnant, could not safely be taken across the raging torrent of what is now the Oakhampton Floodway to the Maitland Hospital, because the Long Bridge was already damaged and untrafficable.
Somebody sought help, presumably by radio, and a plane dropped a crate containing pamphlets on how to deal with a birth plus items needed for the procedure.
One of David's colleagues, a first-year medical student at Sydney University, read the pamphlets and gave instructions to his fellows on what they would have to do to help.
It promised to be an interesting, even frightening, experience. Hopefully there would be no complications.
Fortunately, the flood fell to the point that a surfboat was able to ferry the woman to the hospital
The word came through later that the baby had arrived safely.
Eventually the men returned to Rathmines, where they were shunned by all for not having had showers or baths for their five days away!
They had to bathe, wash their clothes and go on parade, dripping wet, before they were deemed acceptable.
But they had had the satisfaction of having helped Maitland at a time of great difficulty, and without having to deliver any babies.
The 1955 Maitland flood was one of the most severe catastrophes to ever hit the region.
It destroyed thousands of homes as water inundated the city and claimed several lives.
On Wednesday February 23, 1955 heavy rain began falling in the Upper Hunter Valley. This would be the beginning of a horrendous week for the people of Maitland.
By Sunday, February 27, the rising waters on both the upper and lower reaches of the river system resulted in widespread flooding.
According to SES records released by Floodsafe Hunter, the total flood volume for the entire Hunter River system was 2.1 million megalitresenough to fill Sydney Harbour over four times.
In Maitland, the flood reached a peak height of 12.1 metres at the Belmore Bridge gauge.
For more on the 1955 flood: