Thousands isolated as deadly flooding continuesSunday February 24, 2013 - 06:02 EDT
Thousands of people are isolated as major flooding continues on the New South Wales mid-north coast.
Two people are confirmed dead after being caught in the floodwaters and the State Emergency Service says it has made over 20 flood rescues.
The Hastings River peaked at 7.2 metres at Wauchope around 8:00pm (AEDT) on Saturday, below the 1978 flood level, but the Bureau of Meteorology is warning a further major peak is expected on Sunday morning with the high tide.
The Clarence River at Grafton is set to peak at six metres early on Sunday morning.
There are in northern New South Wales as floodwaters from a low pressure system head south.
Evacuation orders are in place for several towns, including Kempsey, Port Macquarie and Bellingen and evacuation centres have been set up at Bellingen and Urunga.
Phil Campbell from the SES says Kempsey is in line for major flooding.
"An evacuation order has been issued, as the Macleay River rises to heights similar to the 2001 flood," he said.
"This has resulted in the evacuation of homes and businesses in the centre of the town and also of an evacuation order downstream communities including Gladstone, Smithton and others."
State Emergency Service crews are working through the night, sandbagging homes and businesses at risk of flooding.
Parts of Bellingen and Dorrigo have now been isolated by rising creeks and rivers, with almost 4,000 people affected and more than 12,000 homes without power.
Rachel Hussell from Essential Energy says the worst-hit areas are around Coffs Harbour, Bellingen and Nambucca Heads.
"There is just so much damage to the network, especially in and around some of those areas that are hard to get to, in and around the Coffs area, that we just cant guarantee that we're going to get power on [on Saturday night]," she said.
"It is very much widely spread. In saying that we do have crews working in all of those areas, as we've pulled in crews from neighbouring regions."
Further south, more than 17,000 homes in Sydney, the Central Coast and the Hunter are without power, as rain continues to bucket down across the region.
The low pressure system has tracked south since Friday, causing flooding from the NSW-Queensland border down.
The wild weather caused on Friday night due to fallen trees and a landslide.
NSW Emergency Services Minister Mike Gallacher says people on the north coast are resilient, but are still recovering from floods several weeks ago and there is more rain forecast.
"Hopefully, the anticipated deterioration in the weather next week will not see a continuation of this weather pattern," he said.
Earlier on Saturday, the flooding brought tragedy to Grafton when the body of a man was found in a submerged car north of the town.
SES volunteers responded to reports of the submerged car on the Rogan Bridge Road about 20 kilometres from the town, around 1:00pm (AEDT) on Saturday.
The man's body was found inside. It is believed he was a local but there are no other details at this stage.
On Friday, 17-year-old Luke O'Neill, from Bonny Hills, drowned after being swept into a stormwater drain south of Port Macquarie.
He had been waist-deep in floodwater collecting golf balls with two friends at the Camden Haven Golf Course at Kew during the height of Friday's storm.
A force of water trapped him in a large drainpipe. He drowned and his body was found on Saturday morning at a dam about 40 metres away.
© ABC 2013
More breaking news
Some are calling it the best day of the snow season so far, with 15-20cm+ falling over the Australian Alps overnight.
It was a teeth-chattering start to July for Australia's westernmost capital city.
A plaque thought to have been washed away from a house in Latrobe in the devastating floods has been found 100 kilometres' drive away three weeks after it was lost.