Updated, 20:50pm: Three people have died as severe weather conditions continue to impact the Central Hunter region today.
Intense weather conditions overnight and early this morning (Tuesday 21 April 2015), have increased rainfall in the region.
Numerous calls were received by emergency services for assistance, particularly in the Stroud and Dungog areas.
The woman and two men were found dead in the town of Dungog, where four houses were swept down the street by flash flooding..
The circumstances surrounding their deaths are still to be determined.
The streets turned into rivers in a matter of minutes according to 18-year-old Dungog resident Jarrod Rits, who recorded the dramatic moments on his phone and posted them on YouTube.
‘The water was just a roar, really, just rushing through the streets,’ he told The Sydney Morning Herald.
Mr Rits said his house is standing, but substantially water damaged.
‘My house is trashed inside and out. Everything is damaged,’ he said.
Earlier report: More than 20 people have been rescued from floodwaters and 180,000 homes and businesses are without power as storms continue to lash NSW.
State Emergency Service personnel and firefighters in Stroud, just north of Newcastle, have rescued 10 people from rooftops in the state’s wildest weather in five years.
One woman who was trapped on a roof is understood to have suffered a cardiac arrest.
‘The elderly female is in a critical condition and transported to hospital. We have other rescues on at the moment and in some of those situations we hold grave concerns for those persons,’ said SES deputy commissioner Steve Pearce
The State Emergency Service is struggling to cope. So far it has received more than 2800 calls for help and has carried out 10 flood rescues.
‘This is an enormous event that’s been unfolding,’ SES commissioner Steve Pearce told the Nine Network on Tuesday morning.
‘We haven’t seen gale-force winds this consistent for years – gusting over 100km/h. They are cyclonic.’
He said there was ‘enormous damage’ across the eastern seaboard of NSW, including Sydney and central and mid-north coastal communities.
‘We have over 500 SES volunteers in the field … hundreds of firefighters from the Rural Fire Service and Fire Rescue also assisting.
‘This is a multi-agency response and we can see it only getting worse.’
The strong winds have downed hundreds of electricity lines, leaving about 100,000 homes without power.
The torrential rain has also caused flash flooding in Sydney and elsewhere affecting major roads and rail routes.
In hard-hit Stroud, dozens of people are stranded in the showground, safe but wet and cold.
‘It’s basically like a flood island (at Stroud). They’re safe but we just can’t get access to them due to no light and also the ferocious winds,’ Mr Pearce said.
Reports are coming in from various locations of homes with their roofs torn off. The danger isn’t over and people should stay home, Mr Pearce said.
‘The roads are far too dangerous. Flash flooding is everywhere throughout the Sydney metropolitan and surrounding areas,’ he said.
‘We have multiple people being caught in the floodwaters. Please do not attempt to walk, ride or drive through floodwater.’
The Bureau of Meteorology said the weather was the result of an intense, slow-moving low pressure system near where the Hunter and mid north coast regions meet.
The system is expected to move gradually south throughout Tuesday.
Destructive winds of 90 to 100 km/h, with gusts to 135 km/h, are forecast for coastal parts of the Hunter district, including the Central Coast.
Damaging winds averaging 60 to 70 km/h, with gusts to 100km/h, are expected along the coastal fringe of the Metropolitan, Mid North Coast and Illawarra districts.
Heavy rain is also expected in the Hunter district, and possibly in the metropolitan, Illawarra, and southern mid north coast districts, and there is a warning out for very heavy surf.