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Snowfall calls for improvisers

The snowstorm that dropped more than a foot of snow in the Detroit Lakes area made for an interesting weekend for law enforcement.

"It was terrible...way too much snow," said Sgt. Robert Strand, who says squad cars were getting stuck trying to patrol Saturday. "So we patrolled in 4-wheel drive pickups, and then on Sunday night we commandeered a couple of 1-ton plows from the city," he said.

It was a good thing, too because snow storms don't stop for doctors being called in for emergencies.

"Around 2 in the morning we got a call from dispatch that there was a doctor who had went in the ditch, so we were able to make our way to him and assist him to the hospital," said Strand, who then turned around and picked up a nurse who was also snowed in at her house.

The ambulance was being escorted around by one of the plows as it struggled to get to medical calls.

"We probably upset a few neighbors on Maple Ridge Drive because the ambulance couldn't get through, so we escorted them with the plow and there's only one place for the snow to go, but we had was an emergency," said Strand, who says the fire department also had their share of problems when responding to a gas line that had been hit by a snow plow Saturday night.

"They couldn't get their (fire) truck back out again, and so they had to throw some chains on...that got a bit interesting," he said, adding that it was also "interesting" patrolling around in trucks that had no cage for those being arrested. "You just have hope they play nicey-nice and don't cause any trouble," he added.

But Strand says that didn't end up being an issue, as people were fairly bunkered down and their call load was way down.

In fact, throughout the city, he said, there were no accidents or injuries the department is aware of over the weekend.

Becker County Sheriff Kelly Shannon says county-wide there were also no injuries or "real" accidents.

"We did have several people in the ditch that we responded to," said Shannon, adding that they even had to respond to one of their own squad cars.

"We had an officer go in the ditch while they were responding to a call, and it ended up taking over an hour for emergency personnel to get them out."

Shannon says throughout the county, there were still way too many people out on the roads during a time when they had advised no travel.

"For some reason there are those people who just don't take our warnings seriously, and it ends up putting other people in danger when they have to go out and rescue them," said Shannon.

And it wasn't easy for the sheriff's department to respond to all of those who needed rescuing from the ditch, as the storm created a staffing issue for the department.

"We had a lot of people who couldn't get into work, and so some of the staff who were already working ended up pulling a double, so we were short staffed big time, but everybody worked together to get it done," said Shannon, adding that some of those officers then had to get a hotel in town because they couldn't get back home the next day.

But now, as the streets are cleared and residents are once again mobile, law enforcement warns drivers that they still need to be vigilant.

"The snow piles at the intersections are really high," said Strand, "so people need to stop and make sure they can see both ways before going through. Some guy just about hit is tough to see right now."

And as for the vehicles that have been sitting along city streets since the storm, Strand warns that owners had better move them ASAP.

"They usually have 48 hours that a vehicle can sit in one spot, and we know with the storm some of them have been sitting there longer, but we need to start getting them out of there," said Strand, who says they'll begin towing vehicles come Thursday.