A search is underway for a man feared missing in floodwaters in Sydney’s west, as major flooding continues for many rivers across the city.
Delivery driver Xianbin Liu has not been seen since leaving Greendale, in Sydney’s outer-west about midnight on Monday.
Mr Liu failed to make a scheduled delivery at 6am Tuesday, and the Isuzu Pantech truck he was driving was found submerged in floodwaters nearby about 9pm, police say.
Police said on Wednesday they had begun a large-scale search of the area.
The search came as the devastating floods that have hit Sydney and across much of NSW in the past 10 days have already claimed eight lives.
On Tuesday, the bodies of a man and a woman – believed to be a mother and son – were found at Wentworthville, in Sydney’s west. Five others have died in the flooding in and around Lismore, in northern NSW.
At the height of the flooding on Tuesday, about 60,000 people across greater Sydney were subject to evacuation orders.
On Wednesday, the weather bureau said the city had had its wettest start to a year on record, with close to a year’s rain already since the start of 2022.
The Bureau of Meteorology’s Dean Narramore said 872 millimetres of rain had fallen in Sydney since January 1, the highest tally since records began. The previous record was 815.8 millimetres in 1956.
“That is the wettest start to Sydney so far,” he said.
In the past 24 hours alone, parts of Sydney copped more than 100 millimetres of rain leading to widespread flooding.
A sunny day is expected on Thursday, but the state’s flood crisis isn’t over. Major flooding is continuing in western Sydney’s Hawkesbury and Nepean Rivers, and the Wollombi Brook in central west NSW.
The Hawkesbury River at Windsor reached 14 metres on Wednesday, about a metre above river levels seen during devastating floods a year ago.
“Numerous other communities on the Hawkesbury are likely to see the flood levels peak sometime today and only slowly recede in the coming days,” Mr Narramore said.
Coastal showers could develop on Friday. However, no major rainfall events are forecast in coming days, including next week.
A hazardous surf warning remains in place.
The State Emergency Service received 2000 calls for help and completed 71 rescues in the 24 hours to 10am, Sydney Metro Zone Commander Greg Swindells said.
With forecast winds of up to 90km/h and saturated soil, the SES is bracing for an increase in fallen trees and powerlines.
It came as Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Premier Dominic Perrottet visited flood-ravaged northern NSW on Wednesday.
Some $238.9 million worth of grants have been handed out to 205,700 people affected by floods in NSW, Government Services Minister Linda Reynolds said.
“The sheer scale of this disaster and the huge number of communities impacted is the largest in recent Australian history,” she said.
Some 1635 ADF personnel were deployed to clean up efforts on Tuesday, growing to 3139 by the end of Wednesday, the majority of them in the flood hit Northern Rivers.
Sydney residents have been urged to slow down on roads and avoid driving where possible.
Metropolitan Roads Minister Natalie Ward said the situation was rapidly evolving and reminded drivers to not go around barriers on the road.
“Barriers are there for a reason. That’s to stop you and warn you about going into those areas,” she said.
A long list of Sydney roads have been impacted by flooding in the city’s northern beaches, the Hawkesbury, Wiseman’s Ferry, the north west suburbs, Windsor and the Blue Mountains.
All bridges that had “gone underwater” would require expert safety inspections, Craig Moran from Transport for NSW said.
Sydney Trains also warned of significant disruption and delays and advised commuters to avoid non-essential travel and work from home if possible.
The death toll from flooding increased to eight on Tuesday with the discovery of two bodies in a stormwater canal at Wentworthville in Sydney’s west.