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Weather doesn't slow efforts of area police

WORTHINGTON -- While most people have spent the last few days hunkered down in their homes, law enforcement personnel still have to be out enforcing laws and answering calls.

WORTHINGTON -- While most people have spent the last few days hunkered down in their homes, law enforcement personnel still have to be out enforcing laws and answering calls.

When someone needs help, deputies, troopers and officers brave the elements and the hazardous driving conditions to get to the scene.

"We don't always have a choice," said Nobles County Sheriff Kent Wilkening. "If it is something non-life threatening, then we see if we can wait. If it is life threatening, we have to go."

Luckily, most law enforcement agencies have had a quiet few days.

"We haven't had to venture out too much," Wilkening said. "We're mostly dealing with people that are stuck."

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With Interstate 90, Minnesota 60 and U.S. 59 closed in southwest Minnesota for the brunt of the storm, there weren't many drivers out on the roads. But Worthington Public Safety Director Mike Cumiskey said there have been a few reports of people driving around the barricades.

"They go around it, and then they get stuck," he said.

Wilkening said some drivers, in an effort to avoid the barricade, tried to take back roads and ended up having to call for help when their vehicles get stuck.

The Worthington Police Department has a lot less ground to cover than the Nobles County Sheriff's Office, but they both have the same issue to overcome -- getting where they need to go.

"We just need to be able to get to an address," Cumiskey said. "But we have three four-wheel drive vehicles, and Public Works is available to help if we need to get someplace."

There was a case of needing to get someplace -- a woman went into labor out in the country and needed to get to a hospital.

"We had to send the snowplow out in front of the ambulance," Wilkening said.

"We called the county, who sent a driver out to the county shed, where the ambulance met them and followed them where they needed to go."

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The biggest challenge was visibility. The blowing snow made it difficult to see, no matter what kind of vehicle was out.

Fulda Police Chief Paul Kenney said things in his town were pretty quiet during the blizzard, but by Thursday night, people were leaving their homes and moving around a bit.

"These last few days have been pretty easy," Kenney said Friday. "We have a one mile-by- one mile town, so it hasn't been too difficult."

Plows made a pass through town, Kenney said, so people could just get around a little.

"There were a lot of people out last night," he added. "Some go out driving around just to see how bad the roads got. But we got lucky -- there were no bad medical calls, no fires ..."

Cumiskey agreed things could have been much worse.

"Our officers are mostly just helping push cars out," he said. "People just aren't used to driving in snow this deep."

All three law enforcement officers said they wished all people would heed the warnings that a storm was coming, be prepared for it, and follow the advice to stay off the roads when they are so dangerous.

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"You have to think ahead," Wilkening said.

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