A State Emergency Service boss has expressed frustration with those who continue to take risks in flood water with more than 800 rescues made across the Northern Zone during this rain event.
SES Northern Zone deputy incident controller Superintendent Graeme Craig said he was alarmed at the number of rescues in the zone, which stretches from the Central Coast to Tweed Heads and has a headquarters in Metford.
"We've had a lighter event in the Hunter compared to other areas in the Northern Zone, but flood rescues are still occurring in the Hunter and that's because people are making life critical decisions to drive into floodwater," he said.
"It's a selfish action because they put our rescuers lives at risk to get them.
"We've had road infrastructure damages where there has been very significant pavement damage to the road. You don't know what's under there. With the volumes of water, there has been stagnation with vegetation rotting. So there are contaminated pockets of water you don't want to be in contact with. There has been sewerage overflow, so it's extremely hazardous from a health perspective but also from a life-threatening perspective."
While conditions are expected to clear from today, Superintendent Craig said the hard work would continue for SES teams.
"There won't be any rest for us as an agency for a considerable period to come yet," he said. "Even though the weather might fine up, we'll continue to operate until we complete the jobs but also until the risk as a result of this event has passed. Even though there might be no rain, the runoff will be significant as the rivers continue to flow downstream. Some of these floods can take a week until they exit out to sea."
Superintendent Craig said there would also be a "significant effort" in recovery.
"With the likely reduction in rainfall it will allow us to start to clear any of the residual work and allow us to transition to recovery," he said. "That will include the repatriation of people back to evacuated communities.
"These things can go on for many months and even years. Some council areas with a lot of dirt road infrastructure will have significant wash aways.
"One of the things I can absolutely attest to is the passion of our volunteers. They're there to support the community and they will do it until they can't do it any longer. We are conscious of fatigue and that's why a lot of interstate assistance has been brought in to give our locals a break."