Towns underwater, people missing in floods following Cyclone Debbie

Posted April 01, 2017

Since Wednesday, SES volunteers have rescued more than 400 people and responded to more than 2,200 calls for assistance.

The NSW State Emergency Service rescued 36 people overnight, and deputy acting commissioner Mark Morrow said floodwaters were now heading towards Woodburn and Ballina on the coast.

In the NSW Hunter Valley, a 64-year-old woman died in a vehicle after it was swept off a causeway at Gungal, west of Muswellbrook, on Friday.

The insurance industry will now prioritise claims from storm and flood-affected policyholders beyond those affected when the Category 4 cyclone crossed the Queensland coast between Bowen and Airlie Beach.

Police say a body was discovered at a property in Burringbar, south of Murwillumbah in NSW on Friday morning.

"There could be people overnight that perished in that flood, we don't know at this stage", he told ABC television on Friday.

"We will be doing everything possible to get our print products out, once the road is opened", he said.

Several flood-affected northern NSW towns have been declared natural disaster zones after hundreds of residents fled inundated homes and nearby rivers peaked.

Around 20,000 people in northern NSW were ordered to evacuate on Friday after ex-cyclone Debbie dumped heavy rain across large parts of the state's north.

A bullshark washed up by Cyclone Debbie lies inland in Ayr in Queensland.

Mr Bowden said the situation was regrettable but teams had worked right through the night making every effort to ensure the company's print products reached the impacted areas.

Major flooding was affecting areas of southeast Queensland and northern NSW, where some parts received up to 789mm of rain in the 24 hours. Photo: AAPWater flowing in the main street of Lismore.

Moderate flooding was still occurring along the Richmond River at Woodburn. "Let me make it very clear - help is on its way", she told reporters at Beenleigh, where the local train station has been swamped by floodwaters.

"As this flood event is still unfolding, I urge people to stay safe and listen to the advice of the emergency management authorities", Federal Minister for Justice Michael Keenan said.