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Dispatchers kept busy in Allegan Co.

ALLEGAN COUNTY, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Allegan County is one of several local governments that have shut down for a second straight day.

That doesn't mean that calls for help have stopped coming in though.

Newschannel 3 went out Tuesday evening to check in on those forced to brave the cold so that others don't have to.

These brutal temperatures have been the talk of West Michigan and most of the midwest for several days now, and drivers are being warned to stay off the roads and out of the elements.

Allegan County is pushing that same message, wanting to make sure that their residents and employees are not at risk.

It's call after call today here at Allegan Central Dispatch--with a staff of three guiding those in need.

Call volume here has at least doubled in the last 48 hours, with Mother Nature to blame.

"Sometimes people just slide off and don't have damage, they need a call to a wrecker and we can expedite that," explained Emily Mills, a Supervisor with Allegan County Dispatch.

From road conditions to weather checks, and many medical calls, there are a lot of questions right now, and residents are turning to 9-1-1 for answers.

"We are worried that someone is going to get out there and get stuck and we're not going to be able to get to them," Mills said.

The county closed offices for it's 500-plus employees for a second day, Tuesday, hoping workers take the cue, and stick close to home.

"They key factor is, as important as those services are, safety has to be a top factor, and we know that even if we were to stay open, many wouldn't be able to travel in, and it becomes inefficient, frankly for not much gain when it puts people at risk," said Rob Sarro, an Allegan County Administrator.

The empty streets are giving road crews time to peel back the blanket of snow laid down, and as a result, we're seeing pavement for the first time in days.

The cold temperatures, the drifting has made it very difficult, Sarro said.

But despite the progress, it's still not safe.

"As we head into the clean up phase and the weather starts to turn around, this is when people start to get optimistic, want to get in their cars," Sarro explained.

Officials told Newschannel 3 Tuesday that with gusty conditions and high snow drifts, it's still smart to stay off the roads.

Dispatch says they're taking all calls coming in, but are asking that if it's not an emergency, it's best to call the main number, not 9-1-1.

Because of high call volume, you're also asked to be patient. They will answer your questions, but are working to get help first to those in need.