Motorists stranded by snowstorm on I-95 share food and water during freezing ordeal
With many hundreds of people stranded in their cars for more than 24 hours in a 48-mile traffic jam south of Washington DC, stories have begun to emerge of acts of kindness as food and water ran out in the freezing conditions. Drivers had been stuck on Interstate-95 since Monday after a crash involving six tractor-trailers blocked the roadway during a snowstorm that saw up to 11-inches of snow pile up across the Commonwealth of Virginia. As the hours ticked by many ran out of any provisions they may have had in their vehicles, and worse they also began to run out of fuel to heat their cars as temperatures plummeted to just 16F (-9C).
With no sign of authorities reaching those trapped, it was up to people to help their fellow drivers. Much of this help came from truck drivers, who are well-provisioned for their long journeys behind the wheel. A truck driver named Matthew Marchand told Insider that he had been sharing his supplies with nearby drivers as it became clear that they would be there for a long time.
He noted that no one driving on I-95, the East Coast’s most important north-south road would expect to be stranded for so long and therefore would not be prepared as they would in more remote or northerly regions. Truck driver Michele Rusher told the outlet that many trucks are well-stocked with food and water and that people should not be afraid to ask for help or food if needed. Speaking to NBC 4 Washington, Emily Clementson, another truck driver, also suggested people ask truck drivers if they have extra supplies, such as snacks or water bottles.
Virginia Senator Tim Kaine was among those trapped in the stationary bumper-to-bumper traffic having set out from Richmon on what was supposed to be a two-hour drive to Washington.
He tweeted that at one point in the middle of the night a family from Connecticut returning from a trip to Florida handed out oranges to the surrounding drivers – “Bless them!” he said. Connecticut governor Ned Lamont responded on Twitter: “Connecticut values extend well beyond our state’s boundaries.” He added: “This family’s generosity meant much more than just a snack.
It was a friendly reminder that we’re all in this together.” In an interview with WTOP, Mr Kaine described a “nice camaraderie” among the travellers who were stuck, with people sharing food and drinks. Drew Wilder, a reporter for NBC covering northern Virginia, tweeted quotes from people stranded in their cars.
“My kids haven’t eaten in 26 hours,” said one person. “I had to get out of my and use the restroom in the middle of the road at 4am,” said another. “The tow trucks aren’t coming and the hotels are full,” said a third.
Mr Wilder also spoke with a Maryland mother who was worried her children would freeze when their car ran out of gas after being “two hours away from home” for 36 hours. They were found by a firefighter who let them sleep in an ambulance on Monday night, but they are still stranded. Governor Ralph Northam told NBC 4 that Virginia State Police, the Virginia Department of Transportation, and other state officials and crews were working nonstop to help people stranded in the gridlock.
“This has been a difficult night for a lot of folks. I’m very sorry that people have been stranded. We’re doing everything we can to get to these individuals, whether it be [giving them] water or a place to be warm,” Mr Northam said on Tuesday morning.
Just before 6pm on Tuesday evening, no one remained stranded on the highway.