Worst of storm over, but hundreds still isolated

Floodwaters are receding across much of NSW but about 2000 people who remain isolated might have to stay put for days to come.

Fierce storms have lashed the Hunter, Sydney and Illawarra regions over the past three days, leaving four people dead.

The NSW State Emergency Service (SES) has logged 14,860 calls since Monday morning, with emergency crews only about halfway through the backlog, while the damage bill stands at $161 million and is set to rise.

NSW Premier Mike Baird, who toured drenched townships in the Hunter on Thursday, said it was likely to be a long time before those affected were back on their feet.

"Homes, cattle - this whole landscape has been completely and utterly devastated," Mr Baird said in Maitland after a helicopter trip above the region.

"I don't think many of us can imagine circumstances where our life is literally washed away ...

"Personal possessions, all your memories are lost in an instant."

There have been more than 150 flood rescues this week.

SES teams are ferrying food and medical supplies to more than 1800 people in the communities of Hinton and Gillieston Heights, where great-grandmother Anne Jarmain died after her car was washed off a roadway on Wednesday morning.

With no power and dwindling food supplies, she had popped out to buy some milk.

Local SES spokeswoman Amanda Hyde said many homes could remain cut off into the weekend.

There were emotional family reunions after 35 people, who did not live locally but had been caught out by the storms, were brought back to higher ground.

Meanwhile, locals have rallied to share what they have, offering blankets and dry clothes and opening up their homes to those in need of shelter.

As other communities shift into recovery mode, the Deputy State Emergency Operations Controller, Assistant Commissioner Alan Clarke, has urged people to remain vigilant.

"The effects of the clean-up can be just as dangerous as the floods themselves and we are appealing to the communities impacted by the floods to take all precautions and listen to emergency service agencies," he said.

The damage is expected to run to hundreds of millions of dollars.

Insurers had received 24,250 claims by 10am on Thursday from people and businesses affected by storm and flood damage in Sydney, the Illawarra and Hunter Valley this week.

"These are early figures for this catastrophe, and insurers are standing by for many more claims to be lodged over the next few days," Insurance Council of Australia chief executive Rob Whelan said.

Flood warnings remained in place on Thursday evening for the Hunter River, Hawkesbury and Nepean Rivers and Wyong River and Tuggerah Lake.

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