An evacuation warning was issued for parts of a town in east Gippsland, in Victoria, as floodwaters rose to emergency levels on Thursday morning.
There were reports of one man being rescued from his car in Traralgon, while more than 200 houses faced inundation as water in the Traralgon Creek rose rapidly.
Locals have been urged to go to family or friends, or head to a relief centre that has been set up at the Traralgon Basketball Stadium, in Garibaldi Street.
“This is still an extremely dynamic situation. It will continue to change,” Victoria’s Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said.
East Gippsland was bearing the brunt of the wild weather that crossed Victoria overnight and into Thursday. More than 175 millimetres of rain fell in the Traralgon Creek catchment, with waters expected to rise up to 3.5 metres.
There were also alerts for major flooding on several rivers after the Mount Baw Baw, Mount Tassie and the Thomson-Yarra Divide all had more than 200 millimetres of rain on Wednesday night.
The Thomson River at Sale was also likely to peak on Thursday afternoon. There are also flood warnings for the Avon, Thomson, Macalister, Latrobe and Upper Yarra rivers.
“That water is all going to come down the hills and hit us,” Gippsland South MP Danny O’Brien said on Thursday.
The Princes Highway is cut in several places in Gippsland – at Traralgon, Sale and Rosedale.
Mr O’Brien, who was returning to his Sale home to monitor the situation, said a local brigade had already been called out three times for people stuck in cars trying to drive through floodwaters.
“Our emergency services have got enough to do without having to try to deal with these issues that can be avoided,” the Nationals MP said.
“If you don’t need to be travelling today stay at home, please be very careful on the roads slow down and don’t drive through floodwaters.”
Victorian SES commander Jackson Bell said he had not seen a weather event like it for some time.
“We’ve got one part of the state experiencing the significant rain and then we’ve got another part of the state, particularly metropolitan Melbourne and other parts, experiencing significant wind,” he told Nine’s Today.
“As you would have seen from the devastation, it will be days to come in the clean up that’s for sure.”
About 200,000 Victorians remained without power on Thursday after wild winds also hit the state overnight.
Damaging overnight winds up to 120km/h caused widespread damage across parts of Victoria, including Melbourne.
The Victorian SES had more than 4000 callouts overnight, most for fallen trees and building damage.
Lilydale and Emerald in Melbourne’s outer south-east were among the hardest-hit areas.
In nearby Belgrave, Victoria Police officers walked more than a kilometre to rescue a woman and her nine-year-old son after a tree fell on their house at the height of the storms.
She was injured and the pair were trapped after the branch landed on their roof, causing severe damage.
She managed to call triple zero and local police, who were also isolated because of fallen trees, trekked into the pair’s property to provide help.
A severe weather warning for damaging winds remains current for southern parts of Victoria, and northern parts of Tasmania are in a similar boat.
Meanwhile, further north, NSW and Queensland were shivering through a cold snap.
In NSW, the regional NSW towns of Orange in the state’s central-west and Oberon in the Central Tablelands have been turned into winter wonderlands.
The cold snap has brought widespread snow in the ranges, with the Perisher Valley receiving a dump of about half a metre.
Sydney is expected to reach only 11 degrees on Thursday as the mercury in some NSW areas dips more than 10 degrees below average.
With unseasonably low temperatures in Queensland as well, the Sunshine State’s Granite Belt had also expected a rare dusting of snow.
But it has been a no-show thus far over the peaks around Stanthorpe, with current conditions too dry.