Sunday reading: stranded drivers regroup amid winter storm


North Carolina doesn’t often see snow, so when a winter storm hit the city on Monday morning and dropped sleet patches and a few snow showers downtown, that was big news. But the confusion and chaos created by the storm in Raleigh was nothing compared to what was happening 230 miles north.

In Washington, DC, that same winter storm dropped about a foot of snow on roads and bridges, knocking down trees and shutting down a section of I-95 north for more than a day. Hundreds of drivers were stranded on an ice and snow covered highway, running out of food, water and gas, some for more than 24 hours.

It wasn’t all bad news, however. In the whirlwind of holiday woes – new cases of COVID, bad weather and canceled flights –The Washington Post documented rare good news this week. A short story from reporter Sydney Page tells how a stranded couple helped a local bakery distribute fresh bread to other struggling motorists. It’s a quick read and a little cheesy, but a welcome light in the gloom surrounding the New Year.

Casey Holihan and her husband John Noe had been stuck in their car for around 16 hours when they had an idea, writes Page. They spotted a Schmidt Baking Company truck in front of them and, after 37 hours with no food, were ready to do anything to get their hands on something to eat.

“They decided to call the Schmidt Baking Company in Baltimore in the hopes that they might be willing to give whatever products were on the truck to hungry travelers. The couple knew it was a long way, but they – and countless others, including who were trapped on I-95 for nearly 24 hours after snow and ice triggered an overnight shutdown – were in desperate need of food. ”

The couple left their phone number with a customer service representative, with little hope. But just 20 minutes later, the owner of the bakery business called them, asking the truck driver to hand out packages of bread and rolls to anyone who needed them.

For about an hour, the couple walked the icy road with the driver, handing out around 300 packages of bread.

“[Holihan] Heard stories of families with young children who were stuck without food for hours on end, “the story read.” Although spending an entire night on a freeway was scary and stressful for everyone in the morning, ” we have developed a very small community that will not be quickly forgotten, ”she added.

Their story is one of dozens that arose from the highway crisis as travelers regrouped to help each other through a night of freezing temperatures. Maybe there really is still a silver lining.

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