Residents in several flood-hit New South Wales towns are anxiously watching swollen rivers expected to peak overnight.
Nearly 2,000 people have been evacuated from their homes and the State Emergency Service (SES) says at least 10,000 people are isolated by floodwaters.
The State Government says the floods have caused millions of dollars worth of damage already, and it has declared disaster areas in the worst-hit places.
The wild weather buffeting the region is gradually moving south, with the focus now on the Port Macquarie and Manning areas.
SES spokeswoman Stefanie Heard says the main concern overnight is the Taree area, where residents have also been ordered to evacuate from low-lying areas around Taree and Wingham.
“The BOM has predicted a flood level of around 4.3 metres for the Taree Bridge Gorge at around 3am this morning,” she said.
The SES says the Manning River is likely to flood homes and businesses when it peaks there.
Ms Heard says the torrential rain causing the flooding is expected to ease, but it will still be a nervous wait for many residents.
“Heavy rain is still possible for the Hunter and the mid-north coast tonight and with the rain easing tomorrow,” she said.
Early Wednesday a man was killed when his car was crushed by a tree brought down by the heavy weather at Hillville, south-west of Taree.
Officials have also urged motorists not to drive through floodwaters after rescuing three people when their car was swept from a roadway at nearby Wherrol Flat.
Oxley SES spokesman Peter Floyd says the Hastings River at Port Macquarie’s Settlement Point is expected to rise with Wednesday night’s high tide and local residents there have also been ordered to evacuate.
“With the flood peak tonight, there could be some inundation depending how high it goes, but everybody is aware of that and we will be watching that very carefully,” he said.
“We do have approximately 10,000 people isolated because of the floodwaters so we may get some resupply issues in the coming days.”
Garry Shaw from the Settlement Point Boatshed says the Hastings River is expected to rise further.
“A lot of debris has come down, and because of the ferocity of the tide pushing it down very quickly, I tell you, we just try and get through tonight,” he said.
News, meanwhile, that the Macleay River has peaked and the Kempsey levee has held brought some relief on Wednesday afternoon.
Around 800 people were evacuated from the town’s CBD and the surrounding areas of Smithtown, Jerseyville, Kinchela and Gladstone.
The SES has also ordered residents in the Port Macquarie canal suburb of Settlement Point to evacuate.
An emergency operations centre has been activated in response to worsening weather in the Hunter Valley.
Roads and causeways across the Valley are under water, while at least one bridge has collapsed east of Scone.
Water is also covering roads in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie and police fear conditions will worsen overnight.
The areas further north hardest hit yesterday are also still reeling, with residents in the Bellinger, Kalang and Orara river catchments still cut off by floodwaters.
Nambucca Mayor Rhonda Hoban says the shire is at a standstill.
“All of the regional areas are isolated. Depending on the tides, we’re expecting further major flooding in the Macksville area during the day,” she said.
The SES is warning motorists to drive carefully and avoid floodwaters.
The RTA says the Pacific Highway is now open between Macksville and Nambucca Heads, however it is flooded and closed between Port Macquarie and Clybucca.
It will also stay closed at Kempsey for at least five days.
Further north, one lane of the highway is open at Corindi and the Waterfall Way is open.
The Oxley Highway is closed between Walcha and the Pacific Highway, while the New England Highway is also closed at Muswellbrook.