Evacuation orders have been issued in multiple NSW areas as extraordinary footage shows an entire house floating away in raging floodwaters.
People in a number of low-lying areas along the New South Wales coast have been urged to evacuate as record-breaking rains and raging floodwaters threaten homes and lives.
A severe weather warning remains active on Saturday for people in the Hunter, Sydney, Illawarra, and Southern Tablelands districts, as well as the Australian Capital Territory and parts of the Mid-West Slopes and Snowy Mountains districts.
Authorities are urging all residents in high flood zones to prepare for the possibility of evacuation.
Nine evacuation centres have been established across the state, with the Hawkesbury river, Warragamba Dam and Nepean flood plains on “high alert” evacuation watch.
The Warragamba Dam, Sydney’s major water source, has begun spilling over after reaching capacity on Saturday afternoon.
The State Emergency Services expects flooding in the Sydney region’s of Penrith and Richmond.
Mid North Coast and Central Coast and the Hunter Region are also on high flood watch.
The state’s emergency services said the deluge is making its way down to the Illawarra region.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Saturday said “it will not be an easy week” for the state, with the onslaught of wet weather expected for the most part of the week to come.
“I hate to say this again to all our citizens of the state but it’s not going to be an easy week for us, but I know no matter what comes our way we will be able to deal with it,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“Unfortunately this will be a deep-seated, extreme weather event.
“The rain may not stop till Thursday or Friday.”
A mini tornado was also sighted at Chester Hill and impacted three streets.
Emergency services minister, David Elliott said: “It is very important that you monitor the SES website and the evacuation warnings, it‘s no good preparing to evacuate after you have received an evacuation warning”.
As rain fell across the state on Saturday, footage from the NSW mid-north coast has shown flood waters sweeping away homes in dangerous rapids.
Footage from Taree local Ciara Knox shows the “heartbreaking” moment a home is destroyed by the forces of the Manning River.
Hundreds of millimetres of rain have already fallen on parts of NSW since Friday, and forecasters warn there is more to come.
Between 9am Friday and 5am Saturday, Delward recorded 373mm of rain, Redoak received 343mm, and Upper Rollands Plains recorded 250mm; including 125.8mm in three hours.
Up to 120mm could fall in Sydney on Saturday.
The SES confirmed there has been 4000 call outs and 500 direct rescues already.
The Bureau of Meteorology’s NSW and ACT manager Jane Golding warned the conditions were “dangerous” and could change “quite quickly”.
“If you don’t need to travel, if you don’t need to head out today, this is the day to really stay home,” Ms Golding said.
“For some areas that do have evacuation orders, of course, making sure that you follow advice from emergency services and stay clear of any dangerous areas and conditions.’
Ms Golding said more rainfall was possible over the Mid North Coast on Saturday evening and into Sunday.
“The flood risks will remain,” she said.
“We are seeing rainfall that is record-breaking for March, by 100-200mm above those March records.
“This is a very significant, record-breaking event with the heaviest rainfall that we have seen.”
Commonwealth Bank and ANZ have announced emergency relief to customers affected by flooding, with assistance including customised repayment arrangements and temporary overdrafts.
The Westpac group, which includes St George Bank has also implemented similar measures.
As of 6.30pm on Saturday, the Bureau had issued a number of flood warnings;
- Major flood warning for the Hastings River, as major flooding occurs at Kindee Bridge, Wauchope and Settlement Point
- Major flood warning for the Manning River at Taree with levels forecast to reach 5.8m, just below the 1929 record of 6m
- Major flood warning for the Hawkesbury, Nepean and Colo Rivers, with major flooding possible at North Richmond, Windsor and Sackville, and moderate flooding at Menangle, Wallacia, Penrith, Portland and Wisemans Ferry.
- Minor flood warning for the Georges River, with possible flooding to occur in low lying parts of Liverpool.
- Minor flood warning for the Nambucca River, as renewed rises are possible at Macksville
- Moderate flood warnings for the Macleay River, as moderate flooding occurs at Kempsey and Smithtown.
- Minor flood warning for the Orara River at Glenreagh and Coutts Crossing
- Minor flood warning for the Bellinger River, with minor flooding occurs at Thora
- Minor flood warning for the Myall River, as minor flooding occurs at Bulahdelah
- Minor flood warning for the Deua River at Wamban, with an expected peak of 4 metres.
- Minor flooding along the Tuggerah Lake.
Southern parts of Queensland are also set to receive more rain on Saturday, with up to 100mm possible for the Gold Coast.
Evacuation orders current as of Saturday 6.30pm:
- Central Wingham and the Wingham Peninsular
- Taree Estate, Dumaresq Island and Cundletown
- Laurieton, North Haven, Dunbogan and Diamond Head
- Kings Point and Macksville
- Wauchope and Rawdon Island
- Kempsey CBD
- Lower Macleay
- Port Macquarie
- Evacuation warning for Picton CBD.