Hundreds of people desperately waited for help for 24 hours, trapped in a traffic jam that stretched 64 kilometers in both directions along Interstate 95 in Virginia.
A winter storm and the collision of two tract trucks brought traffic to a standstill beginning Monday, triggering a quick chain reaction causing other vehicles to lose control, according to state police, according to The Seattle Times of Jan. 4.
By 1 p.m. Tuesday, the morale of Jennifer Travis, her husband and 12-year-old daughter was through the floor. After rationing their food, they had only half a bottle of water and nothing else.
The last time they had visited a restaurant had been the day before at 7:00 p.m. In addition to not being able to sleep, they were dressed in clothes suitable for sunny Florida, not for the freezing snowstorm in Virginia.
At that point, they had already completed 18 hours of immobility near Fredericksburg, sheltered only by the Chevy Tahoe they had rented.
“It’s getting hard because it’s not getting any better,” Travis said in a tone of voice that reflected his anguish, adding, “They keep saying help is coming. But it’s not coming. Nobody’s directing traffic. Nobody’s at the stoplight saying ‘OK, you go, go, go, go, go.’ It’s every man for themselves right now. And that sucks.”
Other motorists were also so desperate and hungry that they were begging for food. A bread truck apparently handed out food to some families.
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), located the congestion zone between Ruther Glen, Virginia, in Caroline County and Exit 152 in Dumfries, Prince William County.
“We know many travelers have been stuck on Interstate 95 in our region for extraordinary periods of time over the past 24 hours, in some cases since Monday morning,” said Marcie Parker, Fredericksburg district engineer.
She added, “This is unprecedented, and we continue to steadily move stopped trucks to make progress toward restoring lanes.”
She also said, “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.”
On Tuesday morning, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, said he had been in the middle of the congestion for 19 hours.
“I started my normal 2 hour drive to DC at 1pm yesterday. 19 hours later, I’m still not near the Capitol. My office is in touch with @VaDOT to see how we can help other Virginians in this situation. Please stay safe everyone,” tweeted Kaine.
In the same condition was NBC News correspondent Josh Lederman, stuck about 30 miles south of Washington, D.C., telling MSNBC’s Morning Joe, “I have no food, no water. I have gas, but how long is it going to last?”