6 Jan 2016

Hunter region hit by flooding

11:08 am on 6 January 2016

Flooding in Australia's New South Wales Hunter region has led to evacuations, rescues and hundreds of calls for help as forecasters warn of more heavy rain and the prospect of flash flooding in Sydney.

Man with umbrella, flooding in New South Wales

Photo: AAP

Newcastle roads were turned into rivers of fast-moving water as emergency crews dealt with more than 1400 requests for assistance, including hundreds across the Hunter region.

Across the state, rescue crews carried out more than 20 rescues from flood waters.

Overnight, residents were evacuated from low-lying parts of the flood-ravaged town of Dungog, where wild weather led to three deaths less than a year ago.

Several rivers reached their peak overnight and are now falling, including the Gloucester River, the Myall River at Bulahdelah and the Williams River at Dungog.

However, a major flood warning remains in place at Bulga and authorities warned five homes were at risk of flooding in the small community of Glen Martin, north of Newcastle, as the Williams River there continued to swell.

It was expected to peak by 9am local time.

Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) duty forecaster Dimitry Danchuk said rainfall there was increasing rapidly.

"Effectively this area went from minor to moderate flooding to moderate to major flooding," Mr Danchuk said.

A partially flooded winery at Branxton in the Hunter Valley.

A partially flooded winery at Branxton in the Hunter Valley. Photo: AAP

New South Wales State Emergency Service deputy commissioner Greg Newton said most flood rescues involved people attempting to drive through floodwaters.

He said a pregnant woman was rescued from a property that was isolated by floods.

"That went very well. I believe she's in hospital," Mr Newton said.

"We're also out and about looking for people, looking in areas where people may be at risk such as low-lying camp grounds.

"Many people are on holidays at the moment so may not be familiar with their area, so they need to take that extra care to be aware of what's going on around them and be prepared to move if required."

More rain expected

Earlier, BoM forecaster Christopher Webb said more rain was expected across the region.

"Most of the weather will affect the Hunter, particularly the lower Hunter, before the low decides to move to the north-east probably later in the day," he said.

"There may be some gale force winds associated as well.

"It's not over as yet. There's still the possibility of a burst of really very heavy rain."

Emergency crews from Sydney are preparing to travel to the region today.

Flights in and out of Newcastle are operating on schedule despite major flooding on roads leading to the airport.

However, Sue Pritchard from the State Emergency Service (SES) said crews were also preparing for the risk of flash floods in Sydney.

"We have got some flash flooding hotspots in the Sydney metro area and people just need to be aware of when they're driving out during these downpours just take it easy on the roads," she said.

In Sydney, some suburbs recorded more than 100mm of rain in less than 24 hours from 9am on Tuesday.

"The highest falls appear to [have been] near Frenchs Forest on the Sydney north shore - 112mm was recorded," the bureau's Dmitriy Danchuk said.

A total of 108mm was recorded at Baulkham Hills, 110mm at West Pennant Hills and 102mm at Kings Langley.

"For the rest of today rain is expected to continue, at least during the first half of the day while this low pressure system stays near Newcastle," Mr Danchuk said.