24 Feb 2013

Two dead in New South Wales floods

6:26 am on 24 February 2013

Two people have drowned and almost 4,000 are cut off by floodwaters on Australia's New South Wales coast.

The State Emergency Service (SES) says there have been 21 flood rescues across the region, stretching from near the Queensland border to Port Macquarie and Kempsey.

About 20,000 people are without power and widespread road closures are in place.

The New South Wales Police and Emergency Services Minister Mike Gallagher says everyone is still on alert, watching rising rivers and creeks and residents are being evacuated from parts of northern New South Wales.

SES volunteers discovered the body of a man in a submerged car north of Grafton on Saturday afternoon, the ABC reports.

On Friday a boy died after being swept into a stormwater drain south of Port Macquarie.

The 17-year-old and friends were believed to have been wading through waist-deep water collecting golf balls at a golf club at Kew.

He and a 16-year-old were sucked into a large drainpipe by a torrent of floodwater.

The younger boy was swept underwater for the entire length of the 100 metre pipe. He ended up in a dam at the other end and managed to get out of the water unhurt.

Authorities found the body of the older boy on Saturday.

Flood warnings in northern NSW

Evacuation orders are in place in several towns along the mid-north coast, and emergency services are asking people not to enter floodwaters.

Major flooding is expected around Port Macquarie and there are flood warnings for more than 10 other rivers in northern New South Wales as a low-pressure system continues to hit the region.

At least 330 millimetres of rain was dumped on some parts of the Bellinger River catchment, near Coffs Harbour, on Friday night.

The State Emergency Service says the river has peaked near record levels set in 1974.

Major flooding is also expected for the Orara River west of Coffs Harbour and the Hastings River near Port Macquarie.