Rural responders prepared for severe weather system in Lincoln County

Published: Oct. 21, 2019 at 10:58 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Even though the strong system predicted for today wasn’t so strong after all, rural responders around the state were prepared.

Hog Chain Volunteer Fire Department sits almost in the middle of Lincoln County, just south of Brookhaven. They’ve seen their share of bad weather, and they know all the kinds of calls that can come from it. That means they know how to be ready when the storm comes.

“In case of a car accident, if a car runs off in a ravine, we’ve got our rope rescue box that has rope, caribeaners, just everything we need for rope rescue,” said firefighter Shane Carlisle.

With severe thunderstorms and tornadoes possible in Monday’s forecast, it makes sense the fire departments would be bracing, but there’s actually a choreography to it.

Clifford Galey said that there’s a county-wide plan in place for days like what we thought Monday would be.

“My office is responsible for the emergency plan for everyone. The citizens, the schools, the businesses, so on and so forth,” Galey said. “We have what’s called a ‘comprehensive emergency services plan’ that involves all emergency services in the city and county.”

In Lincoln County and other counties, rural fire departments rely on their neighbors for backup when hours are long and numbers are low, which can happen when severe weather hits.

“We have stayed [on scenes] up to 24 hours, sometimes half a week up to a week,” said Captain Donnie “Speedy” Hedgepeth. “We usually work shifts and get extra people from other departments to get involved with us. Sometimes we just have to bear through it and stay on scene.”

Galey said another aspect of keeping the community safe is also making sure the word gets out. He uses Facebook to reach many of those in the Brookhaven and Lincoln County area.

“It’s easier to put it out there like that and I’ve learned over the years that if I put that out there on Facebook, it cuts down the calls to my office and that helps tremendously since I’m the only one there other than a volunteer that has helped me out every day for the last 25 years,” Galey said.

Firefighters say even though it’s their own time and gas, they don’t mind being ready for the weather predicted for Monday. If the storms don’t come, their communities are safe for another day.

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