Thousands evacuated from their homes as rivers rise in northern NSW

On Friday morning, police said they held concerns for the woman after her and her husband's auto was swept off a causeway at Gungal, west of Muswellbrook.

The widespread flooding in northern NSW as the remnants of Tropical Cyclone Debbie moves south has prompted the Insurance Council of Australia to add the region to its catastrophe declaration.

Tom Hough, a meteorologist with Weatherzone, said showers and windy conditions were forecast for the Northern Rivers region on Friday.

"Depending on the forecast rainfall, further rises are possible".

As a result, the NSW State Emergency Service is ordering more than 1000 residents in South Murwillumbah, Condong and Tumbulgum to evacuate immediately where safe transit exists and they are able to do so.

NSW SES acting deputy commissioner Mark Morrow hit out at "disgusting" footage on social media showing people surfing the floodwaters.

A police spokeswoman told AAP on Friday night that the auto has been found along with the woman's body.

The woman disappeared overnight at the Upper Burringbar property and was found the next day by a family member.

SES rescue boats were forced to evacuate people from the worst-affected areas, while others chose to paddle on surfboards, kayaks or stand-up paddleboards through the murky streets. She said it was frustrating when people failed to heed warnings and take risks.

"I think a lot of people are going to have a lot of significant damage on the farms", he told the ABC.

A high tide combined with the flood level's predicted peak at 1pm AEDT (3pm NZT) is expected to worsen the situation further.

"Twenty-four-hour totals in excess of 200 millimetres are expected over the northern rivers district during Thursday and it is likely some locations will significantly exceed 350mm", the bureau warns.

"What that means to people listening this morning is that most of the businesses in the Lismore CBD will have up to three metres of water over the floor", he said.

"It's the first time it's been activated in 12 years", Lismore mayor Isaac Smith told AAP today.

Lismore's CBD is flooded and water is flowing over the top of the city's protective levee, which was raised after previous floods.

"We'll start to see trees coming down, potentially powerlines", Mr Morrow said.

The Bureau of Meteorology said that between 500 and 740 millimetres of rain had fallen in the middle and upper reaches of the Tweed River Valley in the 24 hours to 2am on Friday.

Local Brent Simpson said floodwaters rose "very quickly" and the devastation was "absolutely horrific". Normally you get a shower, you get a heavy fall. "People have just been trapped by the floodwaters".

  • Leroy Wright