WATER VALLEY – Before the last storm cloud crossed Yalobusha Sunday morning, the steady roar of chainsaws could be heard cleaning up the debris left behind.
Many of these chainsaws were operated by volunteers in the county.
“We had a good crew the other night,” Yalobusha County Fire Coordinator Frank Hyde said.
Often unnoticed, volunteers play a key role in the county. Whether it is extinguishing a fire, cleaning up behind a storm, backing up full-time paid deputies, raising money for a fire department or even supporting the hospital or nursing home, Yalobusha volunteers play a key role in the community.
Like deputies and other county employees lending a hand, District Two Supervisor Tommy Vaughn saw his share of chainsaw action following the early morning storms Sunday.
But he is quick to point out a noticeable difference.
“We are paid to do that, these volunteers are not,” Vaughn said.
Hyde works with seven fire departments in the county, Skuna Valley, Clear Springs, Sylva Rena, Velma, Pine Valley, Tillatoba, and O’Tuckalofa.
These departments encompass an estimated 150 volunteers across the county, according to Hyde.
“Not all fight fires,” Hyde said. “We’ve got wives and others who do the fund raising and other stuff.”
These volunteers also work with the three “metro” departments in the county, Oakland, Coffeeville and Water Valley.
Hyde said the current “group” works hard and started in the 80s. The problem is some of the volunteers are getting older and can’t do what they used to.
“Like me, it is getting to the point where it is harder to pull those hoses than it used to be,” Hyde, who is in his mid-50s, added.
“It is kind of like ‘hand me down’ – that is where we are getting some of the new generation,” the county fire coordinator said. “It is a generation thing, usually if the grandfather and father are volunteers, the grandson will come in,” Hyde continued.
While fire-fighters are likely the most noticeable, Vaughn pointed to other volunteers such as the Pink Ladies who work steadily to raise money to support the hospital and nursing home.
Or, Vaughn added, the Yalobusha County Dive Team. These volunteers spent two days in April assisting Calhoun County after an eight-year old drowned in Big Creek.
“They (volunteers) are not asking for recognition, but they need it,” Vaughn said.
“It makes me proud to live in this county,” Vaughn added.