Phone gaff leads to missing brother

By Simon Waters

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Shirley Forward found her brother in Clarence following earthquake.
Shirley Forward found her brother in Clarence following earthquake.

Shirley Forward was left brimming with relief after calling the Chronicle on Tuesday in a desperate bid to find her brother, missing since Monday's 7.5 earthquake.

Former Whanganui man Alan Best and his wife Adrienne Best live and work in Clarence, Marlborough, and close to the epicentre of Monday's earthquake.

Both were unaccounted for and efforts by Mrs Forward, who lives in Castlecliff, were proving fruitless.

"I rang the Red Cross, Civil Defence, tried to get on talkback radio but it was too busy. I'm a bit desperate, I don't know where to turn for help next," she told the Chronicle.

The Bests live alongside the Clarence River, downstream of where a large slip had damned the river and sent a surge of water downstream, threatening a party of canoeists. "They look straight down upon the Clarence - I think their house is high enough - I just don't know," Mrs Forward said.

She had tried to contact her brother on both landline and mobile phones but without success. None of the several agencies she contacted could confirm if her relatives were safe. She had tried to contact Mr Best's boss also. "Nobody has heard from anybody in the area. I am getting really worried."

Whilst talking to the Chronicle Mrs Forward accidentally hit redial on her mobile phone. To her relief her brother answered. "Oh thank God," she said. "They are safe. The people in the valley are all fine."

She spoke briefly with Mr Best who re-assured her that although there was a lot of damage, nobody had been injured.

"They were picking up crayfish off dry land - the sea has retreated that far. And they can get through to Blenheim by four wheel drive but the road has sunken 20 metres and it's a bit hairy apparently."

The Best's home withstood the earthquake but inside its contents were tossed about. "Adrienne's elephant collection is gone." The limeworks where Mr Best works was heavily damaged. "Alan said it was wrecked. Ironic isn't it - it's been supplying the Christchurch rebuild."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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