Storm leaves thousands trapped on Virginia highway

Authorities worked to reopen an icy stretch of I-95 in Virginia on Tuesday, as thousands of people were stranded in their vehicles in standstill traffic.

Cars on the 47-mile stretch came to a stop around 8 p.m. Monday night, and the highway was shut down Tuesday in both directions near Fredricksburg – some 55 miles south of Washington, D.C. - after a storm dumped up to a foot of snow.

Marine Isaac Arcos was trapped in his car with freezing temperatures outside.

"It was kind of like losing hope, everybody just turned off their vehicles almost at once, and I reached that point, I too found myself doing that."

Arcos was still on the highway, Tuesday, slowly making his way to a marine corps base.

"Another scary part was the fact that I was losing gas because the roads were obviously icy. My vehicle was doing a little bit too much work and I hadn't refilled my gas tank since I left North Carolina. (edit) And right now, currently I'm about 48 miles from my base, so that's something that I got to worry about because while I've been stuck here, I've had to have my car on, and then off, to conserve the gas. But I need to turn it on to, you know, get heat from my vehicle, obviously. (edit) It would get very cold in my car very fast."

As the nightmarish highway paralysis continued, many drivers tweeted about their hours-long ordeal.

Among them - Virginia Senator Tim Kaine. On Tuesday morning he tweeted: "I started my normal 2 hour drive to DC at 1pm yesterday. 19 hours later, I’m still not near the Capitol.”

By Tuesday afternoon, he tweeted an update: "Ok after 27 hours on the road from Richmond to DC, very happy to be back in the Capitol..."

State and local emergency personnel worked through the night to clear downed trees, help disabled vehicles and reroute drivers.

Governor Ralph Northam on Tuesday tweeted: "While sunlight is expected to help @VaDOT clear the road, all Virginians should continue to avoid 1-95.”

But authorities, including Northam and the Virginia Department of Transportation, came under fierce criticism for the state's response and failure to call in the National Guard.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting