HOUSTON -- Chickasaw County Sheriff Jim Meyers Wednesday afternoon asked people not to drive on the icy roads of the storm-ravaged county unless it’s an emergency. “We’re asking everyone to please stay home unless for emergency travel,” he said.

The combination of deputies having to drive slowly and cautiously to answer many calls from stranded drivers, only having two four-wheel drive vehicles, and answering far-flung calls that have already resolved themselves by the time deputies arrive has stretched his department thin, he said Wednesday afternoon.

The weather has also slowed response time for ambulances. Having to wait on an ambulance making its way slowly over icy roads -- sometimes from Okolona to Houston or farther --at a time when seconds can count could be a tragedy waiting to happen, he said.

“The biggest problem we’ve had is folks being on the roads unnecessarily, just riding and sightseeing. The roads are terrible, they get stuck, and we’re having to get to them wherever they are to pull them out of ditches.

In at least one case, the deputy sent to respond to a stranded motorist call, got stuck on the scene after he arrived.

“We’ve had reports of probably 20 cars in the ditch before lunch this morning. Sometimes it may take 30 minutes for us to get there, and we arrive to find they’ve already been pulled out. We’ve also had several wrecks across the county, but fortunately no fatalities,” he said.

Calls the department receives that have already been resolved by the time deputies arrive are a double-edged problem for the department, Sheriff Meyers said.

In effect, such calls waste the deputy’s time it took to get there and then get back to the department. It also wastes fuel, and can slow response time to more important calls, he concluded.

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