A fierce storm lashing Australia's southeast has destroyed homes, flooded communities and may have led to the deaths of three people.

The storm has been pounding Sydney and other parts of New South Wales state since Monday. It has dumped more than 30 centimeters (a foot) of rain in some areas, with wind gusts of more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) per hour.

People were left trapped in cars and stuck on rooftops amid swirling floodwaters. New South Wales premier Mike Baird said Tuesday that officials had received 4,500 calls for help and rescued nearly 50 people.

The worst-hit area was the town of Dungog, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) north of Sydney, where three people were found dead. Police said they were trying to determine how they died.