The Great I-95 Snowbound Backup.

On January 3, 2022, as motorists were returning home, commuting, or whatever, I-95 from south of Fredericksburg, Virginia to Washington DC was shut down due to weather, stranding cars and their occupants for hours – some up to 27 hours.

Interstate 95 reopened late Tuesday in Virginia after snow and ice brought traffic to a daylong standstill, but questions remained around why winter weather left drivers stranded overnight, especially given advanced forecasts from experts.

The Virginia Department of Transportation said early Wednesday that I-95 around Fredericksburg was open, though some icy conditions persisted. Crews had worked through Tuesday to free up a roughly 50-mile traffic jam that forced scores of drivers to wait in their cars for more than 24 hours in some cases for the roads to clear.

Gov. Ralph Northam blamed the backup on “an incredibly unusual event” after about a foot of snow blanketed the area around Fredericksburg. Transportation officials said the winter weather started with rain, which would have washed away any treatment on roadways to prevent icing.

There were several odd things that happened that left people stranded, including the Virginia Department of Transportation not having a plan to get people moving along the road.

The left was quick to seize upon what they felt was the problem:

The problem is that the person they are all blaming – Republican Glenn Youngkin is not the governor yet.

Left leaning and Democrat Ralph Northam is the current governor of Virginia.

Youngkin won’t be sworn in until this Saturday.

(And these people vote while claiming others are ill-informed.)

Of course, the failure of the governor of Virginia was suddenly hailed as being a great response:

This is what happens when you let politics and ideology blind you to reality.

The backup was eventually cleared and I-95 is open while the region braces for another winter weather event.

One of the questions that we have seen asked is “what if the vehicles on I95 had been electric vehicles?”

There were instances of cars running out of gas while on I95, but that is a simple fix once the road reopens; a guy with a gas can or gas truck comes along, puts gas in tank, and off you go.

How do you charge hundreds if not thousands of dead batteries for the electric vehicles? How do you get the people off of the road to a charging station? Tow them? The quickest (and most expensive) charging stations require 2 – 8 hours to charge a battery in an electric vehicle. A fill up at a gas station is 5 minutes – tops.

People like electric vehicles and we understand the appeal. Yet incidents like this show that the EV has a long way to go to be practical for most people. In this case, an EV would not have worked for anyone.

There were a few bright spots in the stranding of all of those people:

Casey Holihan and her husband, John Noe, had been stranded on Interstate 95 in Virginia for about 16 hours when they got an idea.

The couple spotted a Schmidt Baking Company truck just a few cars ahead of them about 9 a.m. Tuesday. At that point, they estimated, it had been approximately 37 hours since they had last eaten.

“We were starving,” said Holihan, 23, who at the time was at a standstill near Quantico. “People around us were very much struggling as well. We could hear kids crying.”

They decided to call Schmidt Baking Company in Baltimore in the hope that maybe it would be willing to offer whatever products were on the truck to hungry travelers. The couple knew it was a long shot, but they — and countless other people, some of whom were trapped on I-95 for close to 24 hours after snow and ice triggered an overnight shutdown — were desperate for food.

They reached the customer service line and left their phone number with a representative.

“I didn’t think it would actually work,” Holihan said.

What happened next stunned her: Just 20 minutes later, Chuck Paterakis, one of the owners of H&S Bakery, which operates Schmidt Baking Company, called the couple directly.

He advised them to go to the truck, then instructed the driver to offer up two products — one package of rolls and one loaf of bread — to any person who wanted them.

“It was an easy decision,” Paterakis said. If he had been stuck out there on the road with no food, he added, “I would want someone to offer their products.”

Kudos to Schmidt Baking Company for helping out when people were hungry.

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