WHEN it comes to emergency situations, Bob White is definitely the man to talk to and, for a long to time come, he will remember October 20, 2004, as one of his biggest days.
In Coffs Harbour last week, 33 State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers worked tirelessly to clean up the effects of the mini cyclone which ravaged the Coffs Coast.
But behind their efforts was the dedication of Mr White, the SES division controller who, unbeknown to many, retired 23 years ago ? only to carry on serving his community.
For 17 years, Mr White worked with the police rescue squad before retiring for health reasons. He moved to Dorrigo and became involved with the SES and now he works for the Coffs Harbour division.
Only two months ago, Mr White took up the position of division controller, just in time to witness the effects of 120km/h winds and severe flash flooding last Wednesday.
"The first phone call was at 12.30am and from then we knew it was going to be a busy night," Mr White said.
At one stage the phones had to be diverted to Wollongong because calls were being missed. Mr White said there was a total of 401 distress calls in Coffs Harbour.
From the 35 volunteers on the books of the SES, 33 attended residents throughout the night and Mr White said many backed up to their paid jobs the next day.
"It takes people with commitment to be a volunteer with the SES," he said.
"They need to care about their community and be interested in helping others."
Aside from the Coffs Harbour calls, Mr White said a further 149 requests came from the Corindi Beach area and this was when it was decided to call in 10 other divisions to assist.
Mr White said he had husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends and young people who dedicated their time to the SES.
nAnyone interested in becoming a volunteer with the SES should phone 6652 2722.