A second man has died in floods in southern Queensland, while further south, thousands of NSW residents as they face a renewed flood threat.
On Tuesday afternoon, thousands of people in Lismore and surrounding areas were advised to leave their homes by 4pm, with the Wilsons River rising.
The weather bureau warned the river could reach 10.6 metres, near the height of the Lismore levee, later in the day.
Flood Recovery Minister Steph Cooke urged Lismore residents to heed the warnings of emergency personnel.
“I know I speak on behalf of every person in NSW when I say we are thinking of you,” Ms Cooke said.
“This latest event on top of the one we experienced a month ago, that unprecedented natural disaster, that saw flooding over two metres beyond the previously set record rush through your communities – this is the last thing you want at this time.”
Lismore mayor Steve Krieg said residents were suffering flood fatigue.
“Obviously everybody is exhausted. We’ve had a month of clean-up,” Mr Krieg told the ABC on Tuesday morning.
There were also warnings for western Sydney. Meteorologist Dean Narramore said a minor flood warning had been issued for the North Richmond area in the Hawkesbury-Nepean region in the next 24 hours.
“Minor flooding is going to cause issues with road closures and the ongoing recovery and clean-up effort in the Hawkesbury and Nepean valley,” he said.
Earlier, the body of the man in his 40s was found by police in a swollen creek near Toowoomba on Tuesday. He was swept away after getting out of his car when it became stuck in a torrent at North Branch about 6am on Monday.
His death came after another man and five dogs died when their ute was washed away at Kingsthorpe, north-west of Toowoomba, on Monday.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services crews rescued a woman who was also in the car but the man and the dogs didn’t survive.
- See all the latest evacuation orders and warnings for NSW here
South of the border, north-eastern NSW had been drenched with widespread falls between 100-200 millimetres, and up to 251 millimetres at Murwillumbah, Bureau of Meteorology senior meteorologist Jonathan How said.
There has also been heavy rain as far south as the NSW central coast, and in Sydney and the city’s west, Mr How said.
“We have seen overnight very strong river rises through some towns across the north-east,” he said, including the Tweed and Wilson rivers, Murwullimbah, as well as areas along the Richmond River including Coraki, Kyogle and Casino.
“These are all communities impacted by the recent flooding, but it’s not going to be quite as bad as what we did see earlier this month.”
Flash flooding that could become life-threatening was predicted for the NSW northern rivers, the mid-north coast and northern tablelands on Tuesday night.
The forecast zone includes Lismore, Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Tenterfield and Dorrigo. Mr How said much of Australia’s east coast faced the threat of intense falls.
Lismore MP Janelle Saffin swam from her home during flooding in February, while her neighbours rescued her husband – who she thought had drowned – and others clambered into their attics.
She said it had been all hands on deck in her community as the rain and flood threat returned, and the response to the most recent evacuation orders was more organised than in February.
“There were SES, army knocking on doors saying evacuate … but only about 15 per cent of people have gone back to North and South Lismore,” Ms Saffin said.
The ruined contents of flooded homes still line Lismore streets.
“People’s lives are out on the footpaths … it’s going to be everywhere,” Ms Saffin said.
“This really was a horrific event … and it requires a very different response from government.”
‘Be prepared’ warning for Qld flood zones
In Queensland, there is major flooding at Dalby, west of Toowoomba, after the swollen Myall Creek broke its banks.
The Bureau of Meteorology said floods peaked at 3.6 metres, below the record 2011 peak of 3.74 metres, early on Tuesday.
Western Downs Mayor Mayor Paul McVeigh said 15 people from four households spent the night in the local evacuation centre.
He said it looked as if most of Dalby had “dodged a bit of a bullet” as floodwaters subsided on Tuesday.
“The best we can say is that we’re lucky that it didn’t get any higher than that, otherwise we would have a major impact right across the community,” Mr McVeigh told ABC radio.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said at least 2000 homes in the Dalby had water through their yards.
Chief Superintendent Commens said QFES had made 14 swiftwater rescues and responded to 240 calls for help since a massive low-pressure trough crossed the state’s south-east coast on Monday.
The system dumped almost 300 millimetres of rain on multiple parts of the Gold Coast in the 24 hours to 5am on Tuesday, the Bureau of Meteorology said.
Almost 150 millimetres fell in six hours at Coplicks Bridge, triggering emergency flash flood alerts for parts of Tallebudgera overnight. They were later cancelled.
Gold Coast Acting Mayor Donna Gates said sandbag stations would remain open for residents on Tuesday.
“If you had some flooding last time just be prepared because there could be up to 140 millimetres of rain today,” she said.
“After that it will clear we’re through the worst of it. So just take care and be aware of your circumstances.”
Three schools at Tallebudgera and one at Warra, on the Darling Downs, were closed on Tuesday.
The deluge had also caused more than 170 road closures across southern and south-east Queensland, the Department of Transport and Main Roads said.