Hundreds of people were trapped in their cars on a section of the Virginia highway on Monday and Tuesday after a severe snowstorm made the roads almost impassable. Traffic was still stopped on the highway on Tuesday morning as some drivers told the newspaper they were on the road for almost 24 hours.
The 50-mile (80-kilometer) section of I-95 between Fredericksburg, Virginia and Washington, DC, became incredibly icy and snowy during Monday’s storm. There was a drop (31 centimeters) of snow in the region, and road operators were unable to keep the interstate highway clean. Even parts of the highway that were cleared on Monday freeze overnight at low temperatures.
The Virginia Department of Transportation closed that section of the highway in both directions Tuesday to help clear roads and help drivers. The DOT said the accident of six trucks on Monday around noon forced the south side of the highway to close and made the situation worse.
There were ambulance crews on Tuesday morning using the fast lane to help drivers who ran out of fuel while waiting. There were also firefighters sharing blankets and water bottles drivers.
“This is unprecedented, and we continue to constantly move stopped trucks to make progress toward rebuilding the lanes,” VDOT Fredericksburg District Engineer Marcie Parker said in a statement. “In addition to cleaning the trucks, we treat the snow and a few inches of ice that has accumulated around them to ensure that when the lanes reopen, drivers can safely head to their destination.”
Drivers complained about the situation on social media and tried to find help. Senator Tim Caine of Virginia he tweeted Tuesday morning that he was in the car 19 hours after he started his “normal two-hour drive to DC” on Monday afternoon and said his office was working with DOT to help other drivers. IN nightmarish tweet thread released in the early hours of Tuesday morning, NBC reporter Josh Lederman described his own multi-hour experience of getting stuck in a car, including worries about running out of fuel and waiting in the cold. Lederman said he saw cars abandoned after accidents or run out of fuel.
“This was a pretty crazy and pretty dystopian experience,” Lederman said said Morning to Joe Tuesday. “I can see thousands of cars from where I am on the highway… [they] they were in their cars overnight without food, without water. It was 26 degrees outside, and no one knows how long we will be here and how we will get out. ”
It’s not just hard on the highway for people; thousands stuck at home also feel the blows of the storm. More than 132,000 Dominion Energy customers in central Virginia were still without electricity after the storm caused interruptions on Monday; another 90,000 Rappahannock Electric Cooperative (REC) customers also experienced outages. The weather is expected to hit the region warmer than usual by Thursday, although the next few days could be difficult. REC officials said the disappearance was “historic”, and both utilities say it could be several days before the electricity is turned on again for some users.