SYDNEY: Thousands of people on Australia’s east coast were cut off by floodwaters today, with the heavy rain claiming two lives as extreme thunderstorms damaged homes and brought down trees in Sydney.
State Emergency Services said the Macleay River peaked lower than had been forecast in the northern New South Wales town of Kempsey, 350 kilometres (215 miles) north of Sydney, and the town appeared to have escaped major flooding.
But the north coast region, including the towns of Port Macquarie and Taree, remained under close watch along with the Hawkesbury-Nepean area west of Sydney.
State Emergency Services said in a statement isolation remains a concern with around 20,000 (people) cut off across the north and mid-north coasts.
The SES said it had undertaken 66 flood rescues, including from stranded cars, and Prime Minister Julia Gillard urged the public to avoid the floodwaters if possible.