Thousands stranded on Ky. Interstates for nearly 24 hours
Larry Weas spent a cold night hunkered down in his car after getting caught in a logjam along a Interstate 65 in Kentucky. To conserve fuel during his 11-hour ordeal, he kept his car turned off for long stretches and scooped snow into a bucket to have something to drink. A stranded couple gave him a bottle of Gatorade and candy until a rescue worker took him to town.
"This has been a lesson of survival," said the 54-year-old Elizabethtown man, who is diabetic.
Thousands of stranded motorists endured agonizingly long waits Thursday lasting nearly 24 hours for some as a winter storm walloped Kentucky with up to 2 feet of snow and frustrated travelers dealt with gas tanks and stomachs close to empty.
The massive traffic jam stretched for about 26 miles, from just north of Elizabethtown past Shepherdsville. There were no reports of storm-related deaths or widespread power outages.
Still, National Guard soldiers and emergency workers were dispatched to make safety checks on the frustrated travelers.
"You see miles and miles of tail ends and tail ends. It's not a very good sight," National Guard Spc. Jeriel Clark said as his group of soldiers handed out food and water while patrolling along snowbound Interstate 24 in far western Kentucky.
By Thursday evening, state highway officials said interstate routes in Kentucky were open again. Snow plows kept up their fast pace as dropping temperatures created the risk of icy highways.
On Friday, flooding was likely to be a threat in some parts of the state hit worst by the snow. With rising temperatures, the snow could melt and become a hazard.
Gov. Steve Beshear said flash flooding was the bigger concern, not river flooding.
Overnight into Thursday, Kenny Thompson huddled in his car on I-65 with snacks he grabbed for a trip home to Louisville and his smartphone to keep him connected to his family.
Thompson said people would dash quickly out of their cars to go to the bathroom, even hiding behind cars.
"There's no privacy out here," said Thompson, who had been stuck in the logjam since 9 p.m. Wednesday.
After being stranded along the same interstate for 21 hours, Mike Gee had enough fuel in his truck for another 10 minutes of heat.
"We're in trouble out here. We're in big trouble out here," said the 53-year-old from Clarksville, Tennessee, who was trying to get to Ohio with his wife for a weekend vacation.
Among the stranded along I-65 were the Rev. Jesse Jackson's wife and other members of his Rainbow/PUSH Coalition staff. The group was on its way to join Jackson in Selma, Alabama, for this weekend's events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The Rev. Janette Wilson, the coalition's senior adviser, told The Associated Press in a phone interview that staffers had been stuck on I-65 since 2:30 a.m. Thursday. At one point, they walked two miles to buy snacks at a gas station that was quickly running out of food. She said a nearby McDonald's had already closed because it ran out of food.