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After the bodies of a man and a woman were discovered in floodwaters in Sydney on Tuesday, the death toll from the week-long floods that have ravaged Australia's east coast soared to 20.

The pair was thought to be a missing mother and son whose car had been abandoned in a stormwater canal, according to police.

Severe rains and flash flooding swamped swaths of Australia's largest metropolis on Tuesday, forcing tens of thousands of Sydney residents to flee their homes.

Sydney faces "a difficult 48 hours ahead," according to the national weather office, with 60,000 people facing evacuation orders and warnings, and the city's Manly Dam beginning to leak.

ntense rain flooded Sydney's bridges and homes, washed automobiles away, and caused the roofs of a shopping centre and a supermarket to fall.

Vehicles were partially buried in the riverfront neighbourhood of Georges Hall, and police had to rescue people trapped in their automobiles due to rising floodwaters.

- A Black Summer that's 'watery' -

As the torrential rain and violent storms persisted for a second week, state emergency services were stretched thin, with flood warnings issued for New South Wales' entire 2,000-kilometer (1,250-mile) coastline on Tuesday.

"It's very much the watery equivalent of the 'Black Summer' bushfires," Phil Campbell, a spokesman for the emergency services, told AFP.

The scale of property and wildlife devastation in the last week has been comparable to the destructive bushfires that plagued Australia's east for months in late 2019 and early 2020, he added.

"We've also seen a comparable effect on communities in terms of displacement," Campbell added, citing road closures, infrastructure damage, and power outages.

Emergency services have been called to 100 flood rescues around the state in the last 24 hours, with the number set to grow as the storms bear down on Sydney on Tuesday.

As water from the neighbouring Manly Dam began to spill over into suburban areas, flood researchers in the city's north were evacuated from their facility.

Water from the dam is used at the University of New South Wales facility to undertake large-scale tests about one-in-100- and one-in-1,000-year flooding scenarios.

"Ironically, the conditions were occurring just outside," said AFP researcher Mitchell Harley.

Floodwaters were already rising when he came at work in the morning, but the deluge quickly created "serious flooding" in the lab.

According to state emergency services commissioner Charlene York, there are 800 persons in emergency accommodation in the state's Northern Rivers district alone.

Almost half of the 5,000 flood-damaged homes evaluated in the aftermath of the disaster are uninhabitable, according to rescue officials.

"Lots of people on my block can't get flood insurance," resident Casey Whelan told AFP in Mullumbimby, a community cut off from phone service, internet, and outside help for days due to the floods.

"They won't be able to rebuild," he said.

Droughts, fatal bushfires, bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef, and floods have all become more common and intense as global weather patterns shift, putting Australia at the forefront of climate change.