UPDATE 8pm: Police divers have retrieved the body of a woman from a car washed off Cessnock Road at Maitland.
The search continued throughout the day and about 6.15pm, police found the two vehicles.
Police divers were able to confirm no one in the second vehicle, however, the body of an 86-year-old Gillieston Heights woman was retrieved.
While police had been told two people may have been in that first vehicle, divers could find no evidence of a second person.
A report will be prepared for the coroner.
UPDATE 5:54pm: Police say divers have located the car washed off Cessnock Road at Maitland.
Using sonar technology, the car was located several hundred metres west of the area where it was washed off.
Police are yet to confirm whether anyone was inside.
UPDATE 5pm: As darkness descends a worried couple stand waiting at the water's edge for news of the inevitable.
A middle-aged man and a younger woman holding an umbrella over themselves, are understood to be relatives of at least one of the people who are almost certainly perished in the waters at Maitland on Wednesday.
The man, who has been there all day, said it was not the time to speak with the media.
Behind them on higher ground dozens of Gillieston Heights residents wait to get home.
Some, seeing the water appears to be at worst knee deep, are frustrated at the police refusal to allow them to cross.
As the hours tick by, onlookers come and go, but gridlocked roads and at times heavy rain have kept the crowds to a perhaps surprising minimum.
Although the pace of the water has slowed, the inland sea continues to deepen.
Police and rescue vehicles are periodically moved back to higher ground as the high tide mark moves closer to the Cessnock Road roundabout.
On the other side of New England highway the water is now lapping the main northern rail line to the Hunter Valley.
Allison Wyborn, who lives in nearby Steam Street, said the waters were close to the 2007 levels but not quite as high.
"The rail lines in front of my house disappeared completely back then," she said.
In and around High Street Maitland, sandbags were piled against shop door fronts to prevent a repeat of the flooding on Monday night and Tuesday.
In the levee bank area behind the Maitland shops the Hunter River is a brown roaring torrent, with people talking of more flooding downstream at Horseshoe Bend.
Helicopters are still searching the waters for the missing car and its occupants, but it was daylight about to expire there is little hope of them being found on Wednesday.
- Ian Kirkwood
Inspector Brian Tracey has confirmed the the missing people are two elderly women.
They had driven from Gillieston Heights into Maitland and were returning when the tragedy happened.
Inspector Tracey said suggestions that there was a third person in the car were incorrect.
He said police and SES boat crews had been out on the water and police divers were on their way from Sydney.
Witness Jarrod Lidbury saw the car float off the road. He said the silver vehicle tried to drive through the flood water and around a stationary car. When it left the high ground the water pulled the car off the road and into deeper flood waters.
"She travelled for a bit then washed off the road completely," Mr Lidbury said. "About 10 of us ran around to the other bank where the car floated to.
"Four blokes jumped in the water and all of us with first aid training stayed on the bank.
"She couldn't get out so I ran to get a hammer and shifter. By the time I got back it was too late."
UPDATE: POLICE CONFIRMATION
Maitland police have confirmed a search operation is under way after a vehicle was swept into floodwaters in the Central Hunter.
About 8.50am on Wednesday police and emergency services were called to Cessnock Road, Maitland, following reports of vehicles in floodwaters.
On arrival, police from Central Hunter Local Area Command and officers from Fire & Rescue NSW and the State Emergency Service (SES), were told a silver hatchback had been swept away and was submerged.
Several people entered the water to assist and they, in turn, had to be rescued.
Rescuers were assisted by the Westpac Careflight helicopter; however, the vehicle could not be located.
At this stage, it is believed two people are unaccounted for at the location.
The search operation is continuing.
Police are reminding the community never to drive, ride or walk through floodwaters.
BABY RESCUE: A seriously ill baby has been transported to Maitland Hospital from its Gillieston Heights home in the middle of a major rescue operation at Fishery Creek.
Police were alerted to the sick child while conducting a search for the occupants of car still submerged in water near Cessnock Road at about 11.30am today.
Police rescued the four-month-old baby by boat and was taken to Maitland Hospital.
UPDATE: According to reports from the rescue taking place at Fishery Creek there are grave fears for two people whose silver Hyundai is now completely submerged in the waters.
Four good Samaritans who went in to rescue the trapped pair have since returned to safety and are being treated by paramedics at the scene.
The rescue operation is still under way at the Singleton end of Cessnock Road.
There is a major rescue operation under way at Fishery Creek near Cessnock Road.
Unconfirmed reports suggest at least two people are missing, including an elderly lady.
It is believed the people went missing in flood water after attempting to drive through it.
Maitland Police cannot stress enough how important it is for motorists to avoid flood water.
Police Rescue, SES, NSW Fire and Rescue are at the scene.
Police divers have entered the water and the Rescue Helicopter is searching from the air.
More to come.