By Alyssa Schnugg
Like most first-responders around the county, Lafayette County firefighters spent most of the past few days helping stranded motorists and responding to medical calls.
Captain Beau Moore didn’t have all the data of every type of call since Winter Storm Uri made its way into Lafayette County on Sunday, but there were many, he said.
“We have seen a sharp increase in calls,” he said Friday.
The department responded to two major vehicle fires and multiple wrecks – two of which resulted in overturned vehicles.
“Thankfully, everyone has been able to walk away, but it’s an important reminder that even as the roads clear, the threat of black ice is very real,” he said.
While the welcomed sunshine is melting the snow, temperatures will drop down to the teens again tonight making black ice a possibility. Black ice is when the ice forms a slick, transparent covering over the road that is hard to see due to the color of the asphalt.
“Drivers need to use caution and drive slowly as we go through this thawing process, and this process is going to last for the next couple of days,” he said.
Moore said if a driver does go off the road, or is stuck on ice, they need to remain calm and call the Sheriff’s Department’s non-emergency number at 662-234-6421.
“If it is an emergency, dial 911,” he said.
Most importantly, Moore said, is for drivers to remain patient while driving.
“Most Mississippians aren’t used to driving in these conditions and we should all be patient with one another,” he said.
Moore said the department has responded to more medical calls as well this week, mostly due to the poor road conditions.
“A person that might normally drive themselves to the hospital is unable to and request assistance,” he said.
The threat of home fires increases when temperatures plummet with people using space heaters and in some cases, ovens or wood stoves to heat their home. Moore said the department has not responded to any house fires since the extremely cold air blew into Lafayette County Sunday; however, the cold weather isn’t over yet, he cautioned.
“It’s important that every one that is using a space heater has the heater plugged into a wall socket – never use an extension cord – and to keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from it,” he said. “If you lose power and start a generator, make sure you leave the generator outside, never bring it indoors. Also, never use your oven or gas stove for heat.”
Moore said people should stay home when possible over the next couple of days and stay off the roads and give road crews time to clear streets.
“The Lafayette Count road crews are out right now as we speak trying to get our county roads clear,” he said. “It’s just going to be a slow process. We have 668 miles of county road in Lafayette County. For perspective, that would stretch all the way to Chicago if each road was set end-to-end.”
Keep Lafayette County residents safe during the last few days has been a joint effort.
“We also appreciate all the emergency agencies in Lafayette County and the state that have helped, and we’ve been able to assist,” he said. “Everyone has worked hard together with one common goal – to provide support to the people in Lafayette County.”