Large parts of the NSW Mid North Coast remain submerged as authorities warned overnight floodwaters were yet to peak.
People in Kempsey were woken just before midnight to be told by the SES to evacuate immediately.
“The Macleay River expected to burst banks any minute. Very nervous time for businesses and residents here,” 9News Grace Fitzgibbon said.
Hundreds already forced to flee their homes face a long wait before they can take stock of any damage, with NSW SES warning some rivers across the region will not reach their peaks until today.
Whole communities are temporarily homeless after evacuating their residences in the past 24 hours, with hundreds of people taking shelter just in the Laurieton United Services Club in Port Macquarie alone.
On the outskirts of Taree, Fire and Rescue crews carried diver flippers and used Surf Life Saving rubber duckies to move from property to property, trying to reach people who had become isolated or trapped.
There were more than 131 flood rescues, including a group of people plucked by a helicopter winch from a house that is now an island.
In the small town of Kendall, north of Taree, café owner Jenelle Nosworthy has seen her business ruined, with the windows of Miss Nellie’s Café pushed violently aside by the rushing waters.
“It’s beyond devastating but I just can’t comprehend it at the moment, I can’t take it in,” she told 9News.
Homeowner and retiree Pamela has seen her recent renovations ruined as well.
“We’ve still got each other, it’s only stuff,” she said.
Farmers have resorted to desperate measures to keep their stock alive, one even taking to a kayak to hold their animals’ heads above water.
Volunteers have even begun freighting feed by boat to properties with stranded livestock.
“The farmer was quite concerned, so we’re dropping some food off for the cattle,” NSW SES volunteer Jack Frost said.