Hundreds of cars were still stranded on I-95 near Fredericksburg early Tuesday after getting stuck in Monday’s snowstorm. Some have been trapped since Monday afternoon, with kids and pets in the car and freezing temperatures outside.
Those stranded include a Virginia Beach resident and even Sen. Tim Kaine, who said in a tweet Tuesday morning that he was still stuck on I-95 19 hours later.
The standstill first started around noon Monday when several tractor-trailers crashed on southbound I-95 in the area during inclement weather that led to more than eight inches of snowfall on the ground in the area.
As of 7 a.m. Tuesday, both directions of Interstate 95 were still shut down between exit 104 (Carmel Church) in Ruther Glen, Virginia, in Caroline County, and exit 152 (Dumfries Road) in Dumfries, about a 48-mile closure. Chopper footage from NBC4 Washington on Tuesday morning showed many people were still stuck on southbound I-95, as many people had reported running out of gas.
VDOT says snow plows and tow trucks were on the scene and crews were working to get the vehicles off the interstate at nearby interchanges.
“This is unprecedented, and we continue to steadily move stopped trucks to make progress toward restoring lanes,” VDOT Fredericksburg District Engineer Marcie Parker said in a statement. “In addition to clearing the trucks, we are treating for snow and several inches of ice that has accumulated around them to ensure that when the lanes reopen, motorists can safely proceed to their destination,” Parker said.
NBC4 Washington reported that William County firefighters were seen handing out blankets and water bottles Tuesday morning.
More than a dozen people contacted WAVY sister station WRIC in desperation, saying this has been a nightmare with no sign of relief.
“Everybody right now is just sleeping it off,” said Marvin Romero, who has been stranded in his car with his two daughters since 3 p.m. Monday. ” [We’ve been] waiting for the time when we can finally be free from this.”
A Virginia Beach resident named Andy who spoke with WAVY’s Katie Collett on Tuesday morning said he’s been stuck since 7:30 p.m. Monday night. He had essentials but was worried about others.
“I’m here with my daughter, my other daughter is in the back sleeping, this was totally unexpected,” Romero said. “Thankfully, we had some water. I actually walked around handing water out to people who may need the little I had myself.”
Drivers said they have been starving, freezing, and worried about running out of gas before the traffic is relieved.
Truck driver Emily Clementson told NBC4 that people should ask truck drivers if they have extra supplies, such as snacks or water bottles. She said many truck drivers prepare in case they get stranded.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Clementson said.
Right now, there is no concrete timetable or answers for the drivers. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam shared this statement on Tuesday morning.
“The Governor’s office has been working throughout the night alongside the Virginia State Police (VSP), Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) to respond to this situation. State and local emergency personnel — with particular support from Spotsyvania, Stafford, Prince William, and Fredericksburg counties — are continuing to clear downed trees along I-95, assist disabled vehicles, and re-route drivers. VSP has responded to 1,016 traffic crashes and assisted 1,026 motorists since early Monday morning. An emergency message is going to all stranded drivers connecting them to support, and the state is working with localities to open a warming shelter for passengers, as needed.”
Nina Semesta said she is afraid of running out of essentials.
“Right now, it is below freezing. No easy access to gas, food, or water and we can’t even exit the highway,” Semesta said.