A second storm cell off the NSW coast is set to bring more heavy rain as state emergency crews try to get a start on the massive clean-up.
More than 260 SES crews and 600 volunteers will be out in the field on Wednesday while the worst storm in a decade continues to batter Sydney, the central coast and the Hunter region.
The SES says it has had about 8000 requests for help since Monday and about 200,000 homes and businesses remain without power.
The Bureau of Meteorology says conditions should ease on Wednesday but it’s still forecasting heavy rain and thunderstorms, possibly leading to flash flooding, for parts of the Metropolitan, Hunter and Illawarra forecast districts.]
‘This is an extreme event that we haven’t seen for a very long time,’ an SES spokesman told the ABC.
SES Deputy Commissioner Steven Pearce says crews have also carried out more than 95 flood rescues – and they have an enormous amount of work ahead of them.
‘That weather has not abated,’ he told the Nine Network.
‘(There is) still going to be gale-force winds and really heavy rain from Newcastle all the way to the Illawarra.
‘You are getting reprieve in some areas for a short while it is ramping up in others. It is difficult to manage considering the size.’
Ausgrid says around 200,000 homes and businesses are without power. About 100,000 of those are in the Hunter region, including Newcastle, Cessnock and Maitland, and 70,000 are in Gosford and Wyong.
In Sydney, around 2,700 Endeavour customers have no power while 15,000 Ausgrid customers are without electricity in the city’s north.
An Ausgrid spokesman says the focus on Wednesday is making the network safe by clearing fallen power lines.
Some customers could be waiting until the weekend to get power back on, he told the ABC.
Fifty Energex field staff are on their way from Brisbane to help out. SES crews are also coming from interstate to assist local emergency authorities.
In Sydney, there are concerns Manly Dam could overflow but police are urging people to remain calm, saying there’s no immediate threat.
Three elderly people died in Dungog in the Hunter on Tuesday, after more than 300mm of rain fell in 24 hours and water surged through the town.
The BoM says conditions should gradually ease during Wednesday, but damaging winds of up to 100 km/h could still belt the coast along with very heavy surf.
Transport Minister Andrew Constance says the transport system faces an “enormous challenge” on Wednesday.
“At the same time we are urging people to be cautious, to be patient, we’ve still got the morning peak and the afternoon peak to get through,” he told ABC radio.
The Transport Management Centre is urging people to avoid all non-essential travel on Wednesday morning.
In Sydney, the Hunter and the Central Coast, more than 250 sets of traffic signals are out and many roads are still affected by flooding, fallen trees and wires.
The TMC says in Sydney, the Wakehurst Parkway, Oxford Falls Road, Audley Weir are all affected while Liverpool Road is closed in suburbs including Marsden Park, Shanes Park, Rouse Hill, Schofields, Annangrove, McGraths Hill, Cattai, Marayla and Glenfield.
In Newcastle, Industrial Drive, Main Road and The Esplanade are affected. Local roads are also closed in many other suburbs in Newcastle, Singleton, Port Stephens and Maitland areas.
Train services are also being disrupted. Buses are replacing trains on the Central Coast and Newcastle line between Wyong and Hamilton.
The Hunter line is closed between Hamilton and Dungog/Scone. And buses are replacing trains on the South Coast line between Kiama and Oak Flats.
But train services on the Bankstown Line in Sydney have resumed between Sydenham and Campsie following earlier flooding at Marrickville.
‘Passengers are advised to allow plenty of additional travel time while services return to normal,’ the TMC says.
Sydney ferries between Circular Quay and Manly are not running while Parramatta ferries are only travelling as far as Rydalmere.
The Stockton to Newcastle Ferry, Palm Beach to Ettalong Ferry and Central Coast Ferries between Empire Bay and Woy Woy are also cancelled.
The Insurance Council of Australia says 7,500 claims have been filed so far.
SES Deputy Commissioner Steven Pearce said most jobs on Wednesday morning related to trees down on roadways, roofs and cars and power lines down.
He urged Sydney commuters to stay away from Bexley Road, which had flooded, and said Manly Dam was at no risk of collapse.
‘Manly Dam is starting to spill but in saying that, I have to urge everybody there is absolutely no danger of Manly Dam collapsing,’ he told Nine.
‘The dam is designed to spill.’
He warned motorists against attempting to drive through flooded roads on Wednesday morning.
‘Under no circumstances should you even attempt to drive through any road system that is flooded,’ he said.
‘(It’s) a big risk to yourself could be catastrophic and a big risk to rescuers if we have to come to retrieve you.
‘So please, do not be stupid. If it is flooded, forget it.’