"Oh my God, I'm being swept away, come and get me."
That was the last thing a Wellington mother heard from her son, stuck in raging floodwaters in Toowoomba, before his phone cut out.
Kay McKenna-Brock said her son Dean had just left work when his car was hit by floodwater.
"He rang in a panic and said 'I'm stuck, the water's coming towards me, the car's floating'," she said.
Mr Brock, 32, begged his mother, who now lives in Withcott, just out of Toowoomba, "come and get me" before his phone cut out.
"There wasn't much we could do. All I thought of was how to get to him and how to get him help, we've got to go and save him. But we weren't allowed out.
Mrs McKenna-Brock was thinking the worst when she called emergency services, desperate to get her son help.
"We thought he was dead. I felt helpless ... when you're a mother you're supposed to look after your children. We could only pray. We tried to stay positive."
Mr Brock was last night downplaying his ordeal, saying other people had gone through much worse.
He said his 4WD started floating after he tried to drive through the water.
"The car stalled. The water just picked it up and it started floating away," he said.
"Where I was it was quite still, but just to the right it was a torrent and it was going under a bridge. It was like the Huka Falls. It was pretty scary, just crazy.
"The police lines were busy so I rang my parents. I didn't know what else to do. I don't know what I was thinking, I guess I was just thinking about bailing really."
Mr Brock was rescued by a motorist behind him. The man got out and latched a rope to Mr Brock's vehicle and pulled him through the floodwaters to Helidon, 21km east of Toowoomba.
"He dragged me to Helidon and there was water everywhere. It was like I'd been thrown into a Third World country, I don't really know how to explain it. There were people everywhere, it was rather scary."
He spent yesterday helping other flood victims, who also had harrowing tales of survival.
"I just wandered around listening to their stories ... elderly people aged 90 climbing on to their roofs. People like that have stories, not me. I feel very lucky."
His mother said finding out he was safe was "the best news".
"I'm so happy we've still got him, that he's still with us. That's all that matters."
Meanwhile, an Auckland couple are anxiously waiting for news of their daughter and grandsons, who are marooned in Murphys Creek - one of the worst-hit areas.
George and Maureen Whitehead have not heard from their daughter Susan, who lives in Murphy's Creek with her sons Aiden, 19, and Kyle, 17.
Murphy's Creek was one of the worst-hit areas and police held "grave" concerns for the community there, saying they expected to find more bodies as the water levels dropped.
Ms Whitehead's colleague Rudy Coombs said she called him to say she was okay and at her home with her boys and several neighbours.
But her parents have been unable to reach her and are worried sick.
"We got a phone call saying there were eight people dead in Murphys Creek and we just panicked. We were paralysed," Mrs Whitehead said.
The couple spent about three hours trying to find out whether their family were safe before contacting Ms Whitehead's boss, who assured them she was okay.
But they will not rest easy until they have spoken to her, and heard news of the children.
"It would be so good. It's so hard, you think of all the things you want to do to help them but you can't help. Oh boy, I cried, probably from the shock," Mrs Whitehead said.
Anyone with concerns for New Zealanders in flood-affected areas should try to make direct contact with them.
If unable to confirm their wellbeing, contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on (04) 439-8000.By Anna Leask