"I don't think any of us thought it was going to flood."
This is how Katherine resident Sue Moran describes her memories of Australia Day, 1998.
January 26 marks twenty three years since the banks of the Katherine River were burst by floodwaters, devastating the town in a once a in generation natural disaster.
"It had been raining for a few days, so you'd expect the river to be up a bit, but it was not unusual," Ms Moran said.
However, on reflection she concedes the town was seeing more rain than usual.
"That rain never stopped, and it still didn't panic us," she said with a slight laugh.
Ms Moran said she was lucky, her house was spared the worst of the flooding.
"On that day I woke up and thought 'oh gosh that's a lot of water'," she said.
"I walked across [the road] just to see how deep it was, it came up over my knees."
Ms Moran worked at the Community Health Centre at the time, she said her first action was to prepare for a horror day treating casualties.
"We took a car home, filled it up with things we were going to need for dressings and things like that," she said.
She said she was spared treating the worst of the injured, however four people lost their lives, and it could have been more.
The timing of the disaster was relatively fortunate, as the town centre was almost empty due to the Australia Day public holiday.
"It was a public holiday, maybe the only thing that would've been open was the Woolworths... Katherine people don't do a lot of window shopping," she said.
Ms Moran said more lives could have been taken if the town CBD was full of people on a regular working day.
"I see it as being lucky."
Chris Dixon had been overseas before the flood arrived, and only got back to Katherine on January 25.
Mr Dixon said he and his wife Pamela weren't ready for what was coming.
"We'd only been back in Australia for twelve hours... they said 'get somewhere high, somewhere dry'."
He counts himself as one of the lucky ones, even though his house was flooded with sewage, forced back up the pipes by floodwater.
"The water came up to the back door but didn't come in, but the sewage came up," he said.
"Every orifice in the house, we had raw sewage at a depth of about 300mm.
"It was very smelly, brown bits and all sorts of stuff."
Mr Dixon is well aware of the flood's effects, which are still felt today.
He is a driving instructor, and in 1998 was involved in the Road Safety Centre which was flooded along with most of the town.
The centre has been closed ever since, it's doors shut for more than two decades, however a reopening is expected soon.
"We've bought some pedal cars... we're going to encourage schools and parents to come down."
Despite living through the ordeal, Mr Dixon is optimistic about the prospect of a future flood.
"It doesn't worry me, I'm prepared... it shouldn't flood like that again."
Ms Moran has a similar line of thought, rising river levels in the years since haven't kept her up at night.
"No, it doesn't make me nervous... I just think to myself, you know I've had a really good life.
"I'm not worried... what will be will be."
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