Tasmania pummelled by severe storm


Tasmania is now bearing the brunt of a massive storm which left parts of New South Wales' coastline devastated.

At least four people are dead across both states and more are missing. The worst-hit areas have been declared natural disaster zones.

As the storm headed south it swamped Tasmania. Homes and businesses were deserted as floodwaters rose.

"It happened so quick, we really didn't have time to do anything," one person says.

Livestock were stranded and a farmer's desperate bid to save his sheep cost him his own life.

Water again caused destruction at Sydney's northern beaches.

Beachfront properties at Collaroy cracked as more waves pounded the coast.

On Sunday, the tide clawed away fences, furniture and even the family pool.

"A sinkhole just popped up like a boil, and then just bang, popped and went straight through," says resident Brian Vegh.

"It came up from underneath the grass, underneath the foundations."

Two of the homes were up for auction next week with a price tag of AU$3 million to AU$4 million. But not anymore.

"Absolutely it breaks my heart," says resident Carolyn Noble. "[It's] very emotional -- I feel very sorry for these people."

At Coogee a whole wall was wiped out; the surf club's front windows were blown out by eight metre waves. A popular coastal walk is also ruined. 

The severe weather warnings may have lifted, but huge swells and floodwaters remain the biggest danger.

Despite the risks, one man still took his chances on the Gold Coast.

But the surf proved too dangerous at Bondi -- a search is continuing for a man last seen struggling in white water.

Three people are missing in flood water in Tasmania and three others died when their cars were washed away.

The human cost of the storm is already high, and as for the insurance bill it's likely to cost more than AU$40 million. So far more than 11,000 people have made claims.

But as the storm moves from state to state, the bill is only set to grow.