NSW floods: Torrential rain hits Lismore, Northern Rivers region after Cyclone Debbie

Several families reportedly spent the night in the rafters of their roofs while others left their homes late into the night using kayaks and boats

Several families reportedly spent the night in the rafters of their roofs while others left their homes late into the night using kayaks and boats

Two women have perished in the NSW floods and thousands are still stranded and unable to return home as ex-Cyclone Debbie continues to wreak havoc throughout the state.

The deluge following ex-tropical cyclone Debbie has claimed at least two lives in NSW.

The river is likely to peak around 11.5 metres later on Friday morning "with major flooding", the bureau warned.

There were hundreds of rescues, including a man plucked to safety from a wall in Lismore after emergency service workers jumped from their boat into fast-flowing floodwaters to save him.

The body of a second woman, 64, was found in a river in the Hunter Valley region on Friday.

People in Tweed Heads South and West, Chinderah, Kingscliff, Fingal Head and Bilambil were told to leave too.

Mr Hough said the worst of the rain had passed in Sydney.

"The south side is underwater", she said.

"I've never seen it like that".

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"There's going to be a massive clean-up in the days and weeks ahead". "Move to higher ground away from the floodwaters", he said.

"There's a very sombre feeling in town - it's pretty emotional", he said.

"The flooding that has followed is of a very, very unsafe scale in parts of southern Queensland, right through Queensland, and indeed in northern NSW".

NSW SES Deputy Commissioner Mark Morrow said there were 130 flood rescues overnight on Thursday and some people who called for help couldn't be reached and dawn could bring "distressing news".

In addition to evacuations in Lismore, a further 17,500 people have been evacuated from the Richmond/Tweed region, the SES have confirmed.

Tweed police pleaded for sightseers to stay off the roads, warning that flood-stricken residents trying to flee could be trapped.

Closer to the Queensland border, residents in 500 homes in the South Murwillumbah, Condong and Tumbulgum areas have also been ordered to evacuate, with the Tweed River experiencing major flooding.

The Premier said there was widespread damage across the state as a result of the wild weather, and added that emergency services were "very conscious" about struggling communities such as Bowen and Airlie Beach.

A three-year-old boy was swept into a stormwater drain in Lismore Heights on Thursday afternoon but was rescued by NSW Ambulance and taken to Lismore Base Hospital suffering just minor cuts.

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