The flood crisis gripping New South Wales has now claimed eight lives after two bodies were found in flood waters in western Sydney, with tens of thousands of people also under evacuation orders after another day of unrelenting rain.
Residents of parts of Sydney that experienced flooding 12 months ago have been warned rivers could rise on Tuesday night and deliver worse conditions this time around.
Premier Dominic Perrottet says 40,000 people in NSW are under evacuation orders, including in dozens of suburbs around Greater Sydney, after the deluge on Tuesday.
Sydney’s northern beaches copped the worst of the downpour, with more than 128mm of rain at Mosman in the six hours to 12.30pm, and 93mm of rain at Mona Vale over three hours on Tuesday afternoon.
Footage shared to social media has shown water pooling in the Harbour Tunnel, parts of the shopping centre roof collapsing at Bondi Westfield, and cars trapped as heavy rain flooded parts of the Roseville Bridge.
The SES received more than 2500 calls for help in 24 hours and undertook about 200 flood rescues, mostly in Sydney.
The city has endured 16 consecutive days of rain, and no reprieve from the deluge is expected until Wednesday, with no sign of sun until Thursday.
Gusts of up to 90km/h are forecast, stretching south to the Illawarra region into Wednesday, and there is a risk the winds could topple trees and down powerlines.
About 4500 homes and businesses have already lost power after fallen trees hit powerlines during storms in Shoalhaven, the Illawarra and Southern Highlands south of Sydney.
Endeavour Energy said power would also be isolated at 2000 homes in the Hawkesbury-Nepean catchment.
The area in Sydney’s west is experiencing floods as bad as or worse than those seen in March last year, the Bureau of Meteorology’s Dean Narramore said on Tuesday afternoon.
The severity will depend on how much more rain falls in the next 12 hours.
Flooding worse than that of last year was already occurring on Tuesday afternoon in western Sydney on the Upper Nepean River at Menangle, and the Hawkesbury River at Lower Portland and Wisemans Ferry.
Worse than 2021 levels are also possible at North Richmond, Windsor and Sackville, the BOM warned.
The Hawkesbury could reach as high as 14.2 metres at North Richmond by Wednesday morning, with further rises possible along the river.
In the Hunter region, Bulga could on Wednesday morning see worse flooding than last year, with major flooding also likely to hit Singleton.
Several areas around the town were warned on Tuesday they needed to prepare to evacuate.
The deaths of two people killed in western Sydney have been called a “tragic reminder” for people to keep off the roads.
NSW Police Detective Superintendent Paul Devaney said the Wentworthville canal, where the bodies of a mother and son were found on Tuesday, “rose this morning from ankle deep to above neck height in a matter of minutes”.
The victims are believed to be 67-year-old Hemalathasolhyr Satchithananthamand and her 34-year-old son Bramooth who had been missing in the area after their car was found in the stormwater canal on Monday.
Efforts to recover the bodies were hampered by the weather in an operation that involved police divers, the rescue squad, assistance from the State Emergency Service and PolAir.
The first body was found about 1.4 kilometres from the car, and the second about 900 metres further away.
More than 30,000 insurance claims have been filed around NSW, the Insurance Council of Australia said, with the expected cost of the floods in Queensland and NSW now approaching $1.5 billion.
Some could be waiting weeks to have their claims assessed.