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A man has died in floodwaters in New South Wales, as dozens of evacuation orders remain in place for parts of south-west Sydney in anticipation of the Hawkesbury and Nepean rivers reaching levels of major flooding on Friday.

A police operation is underway to recover the man’s body after he was found in a submerged vehicle in Cobbity, south-west Sydney, shortly before 8am on Friday.

Water levels on the Upper Nepean River in Wallacia were expected to exceed last month’s flood peak, while the Hawkesbury in North Richmond was expected to reach 10.5 meters at 10 a.m. and reach 11.8 meters at noon – just below the level seen in the devastating floods in February 2020.

More than 150 schools across New South Wales have been closed and residents have been ordered to evacuate homes and trailer parks.

It follows a day of torrential rain over Sydney, parts of the south and central coasts, the Illawarra and Hunter regions and the southern and central tablelands.

Mona Vale on Sydney’s northern beaches received 74mm of rain between 12am and 8am and nearby Cromer recorded 70mm.

With rain falling on already saturated catchments, the Warragamba dam overturned again.

The state emergency department completed 38 flood rescues in the past 24 hours and received 1,299 calls for help.

There are currently 23 evacuation orders across NSW affecting 2,400 people, and a further 16 evacuation warnings affecting 1,700 people.

“It’s really important that people in areas that are currently under evacuation orders and warnings follow the advice of the emergency services,” said SES spokesman Adam Jones.

He warned the danger had not subsided for other parts of Sydney, with heavy rain and soggy ground combining to create the risk of flash flooding. “If it’s not essential to go out, stay home,” Jones said.

A further 25-50mm is expected to fall in coastal areas on Friday, with rain forecast from Lismore to the Victorian border.

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The Bureau of Meteorology said major flooding was likely along the Hawkesbury and Upper Nepean rivers, with moderate flooding in the Upper Colo River.

A major flood peak above levels seen during the April 1988 floods was recorded in Menangle on Thursday afternoon, where the Nepean River reached 16.83 meters before dropping back to 11.75 meters at 7 a.m. morning Friday.

Residents of Camden and Chipping Norton in Sydney’s southwest and Woronora, Bonnet Bay and Gronos Point were ordered to evacuate early as floodwaters began to rise on Thursday.

People have also been warned to prepare for evacuation in parts of Ebenezer, Emu Plains, Mulgoa, Sackville North, Pitt Town Bottoms, Camden, Elderslie, Wallacia Weir and North Richmond.

Three evacuation centers have opened in western Sydney.

Resilience NSW Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told Channel Nine that repeatedly having to evacuate due to flooding is “really taking a toll on people across New South Wales”.

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