Three people are dead, 200,000 homes are without power, the SES has received more than 8000 calls for help and responded to more than 90 rescues from floods, numerous roads are blocked with power lines and trees down and authorities are warning people to avoid all non-essential travel as the wild weather along the east coast continues for a second day.
A severe weather warning remains in place for people in the Hunter, Illawarra and Sydney, with another storm cell off Newcastle bringing continued heavy rain. More flash flooding is predicted around the city’s CBD.
Gale-force winds, heavy rain, thunderstorms and damaging seas will batter the coastline for a second day.
Sydney Airport says some international flights have been diverted and domestic passengers face delays of up to an hour because of the weather.
The upper Hawkesbury and Georges rivers have been issued with minor flood warnings and the Colo River, a moderate flood warning. Minor flooding expected around noon at Milperra and Liverpool after 160mm of rain fell in the last 48 hours.
Overnight, police and SES workers door-knocked homes around Manly Lagoon and Narrabeen Lakes telling residents to prepare to evacuate. This morning, authorities began to release water from the century-old Manly Dam and flooding is expected in low-lying areas as the water heads towards Queenscliff, where heavy seas are stopping the overflow from escaping. The Harbord Diggers is the evacuation centre.
An intense low pressure system was centred just off the Hunter coast near Newcastle early this morning.
“This low is expected to remain slow-moving, maintaining vigorous winds, large seas, and periods of heavy rain and thunderstorms. Conditions are expected to slowly ease during Wednesday as the low weakens,” the Bureau of Meteorology said.
The Hunter Valley has been hardest hit by the rain, with rainfall totals from 9am yesterday to 4am today hitting 301mm in Maitland, 171mm in Tocal, while Hornsby received 109mm.
Damaging winds of up to 100 km/h are predicted for the coastal fringe, but are expected to ease later today as the low weakens and moves south. Overnight, the wind hit 89kmh at Sydney airport just after midnight.
Around 100 government schools, mainly around the Central Coast and Hunter regions, while around 250 traffic signals are down across the region.
The cruise liner Carnival Spirit, stranded beyond the Sydney Heads, has finally been able to dock in the reopened harbour after seas peaked at 15 metres overnight.
The Manly Ferry is also restarting across Sydney Harbour.
Around 8500 homes on Sydney’s Northern Beaches are without power. The Central Coast and Hunter have been hardest hit, with many enduring a second day without power.
Insurance companies have received more than 19,500 claims for damage from the storms, with losses estimated at $129 million.
Insurance Council CEO Rob Whelan says a catastrophe has been declared to enable industry resources to be fully harnessed to assist affected communities.
Most claims so far have been for low-level property damage, mainly from water and wind damage to homes and damage to cars. Insurers are also receiving claims for severe damage to houses and roofs.
“I expect these numbers will rise quickly as home owners and businesses assess the damage to their properties,” says Whelan.
For help, call the SES on 132 500 or in emergencies, Triple Zero (000).
Police have also set up an 24-hour information line for anyone needing advice. Call 1800 227 228.
Insurers have declared the damage a catastrophe and are prioritising claims, but warned that people should contact their insurer even before making emergency repairs.
— NSW TrainLink North (@TrainLinkNorth) April 21, 2015
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