Australia

Australia storms: Eyewitness accounts from NSW

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Media captionThe house was washed away by floods in Dungog, New South Wales on the morning of 21 April.

Storms in New South Wales (NSW), Australia have hit the state hard. Many areas have experienced floods before but this time lives have been lost.

Three people have died in Dungog, where homes have been washed away by flooding, while two elderly women have been reported missing after their car was washed away in Maitland.

Both areas are to the north of Sydney.

Natasha Wallace, Northern Beaches: 'Howling winds'

This suburb of Sydney has been one of the worst affected by the storm, with roads blocked off by uprooted trees and many buildings without power.

"The schools don't expect to get the power up for a couple of days," Ms Wallace told the BBC.

"I've kept my eldest child at home today because the classrooms are quite dark and they can't actually learn anything or do anything in there.

"My little one is at day care, but he's gone to day care with a torch."

Ms Wallace lives just 50 minutes away from the dense bush land of the Garigal National Park.

"Our backyard itself is really bushy, with lots of trees. I'm really lucky that none of those trees fell on my house," she added.

But conditions on Tuesday night felt worse, she said.

"I was driving home and a branch fell off a tree and hit my car on the way home.

"It was really windy, all the trees were swaying and it was quite scary. I just wanted to get home and then, it was strange, when I got back it was so dark outside you couldn't really see anything but you can hear the howling winds."

Rachel Browne, Port of Sydney: 'A giant washing machine'

Ms Browne, a social affairs reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald, was onboard the cruise ship Carnival Spirit when it was barred from docking due to unsafe weather conditions.

Ms Browne wrote in a first-person account for the newspaper: "Sleep [on Monday night] was impossible as the vessel lurched violently from side to side, and up and down.

"The noise was incredible. The wind was howling at more than 90 knots and every time the ship hit a big wave it felt like an earth tremor. I got back into bed but my daughter and I could not sleep," she said, adding that fixtures were crashing about the cabin and she fell out of bed a few times.

On Tuesday, the ship's 2,500 passengers were told that the ship had to ride out the storm until it had permission to enter the harbour.

Passengers "rolled about in what felt like a giant washing machine on a spin cycle", and some felt unwell with the ship's constant lurching.

"We were advised not to go outside... the ferocity of the storm was obvious. Glass panels near the pool area had smashed with large shards lying on the deck where children had frolicked happily the day before. I noticed large chunks of white paint on the balcony of my room, stripped off by the wind," said Ms Browne.

The passengers disembarked on Wednesday morning.

Councillor Glenn Wall, Dungog Shire: 'Another storm coming'

The country town of Dungog has been one of the hardest hit by storms that have also battered other parts of the state.

"Every river system that we have up here is in severe flood mode," said Mr Wall, who lives in a property in Gresford about 26km (16 miles) from Dungog.

"I have heard that four houses have been inundated and washed away," he told the BBC.

"I have real concern about the next 24 hours because there are reports of another storm front coming in from the north."

Dungog has a population of about 2,000 people. Mobile phone and landline connections have been cut off, and the roads into the town are inaccessible.

Mr Wall said he had had trouble contacting people in the town, but had been told by officials that as many as four houses and several bridges and roads had been washed away.

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Media captionNSW Premier Mike Baird: "It's a once in sort of 10-year event"

Reports say the three people killed were all elderly - two men and a woman - and were washed away with one of the houses.

"People are used to this kind of thing but not to the loss of life," he said.

"Just about every town and village in the area is isolated [by the rising water]," he said.

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