HomeNewsVirginia I-95 Shutdown Nightmare: ‘It’s Every Man for Themselves’

Virginia I-95 Shutdown Nightmare: ‘It’s Every Man for Themselves’

by Matthew Memrick
(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

One exasperated Virginia family’s observation of the current I-95 shutdown nightmare is that “it’s every man for themselves.”

Jennifer Travis told The Associated Press that her family was stuck on the interstate with her husband and 12-year-old daughter for hours.

Despite being stranded in their rented Chevy Tahoe for more than 18 hours with no food, the hungry family made do.

Family Making Do After Last Meal Came Monday Night

The Travis family is among hundreds of people stuck in cars after a Monday morning winter snowstorm stopped interstate traffic in Virginia. Some stuck drivers have waited for nearly 24 hours in a 40-mile stretch of Interstate 95.

On Tuesday, the Travis family was with a half bottle of water and no snacks. Their last meal was at a Monday night Denny’s. With no sleep and dressed for Florida weather, the trio was desperate.

The family got off the interstate and onto a clogged side route, U.S. 17. 

Jennifer Travis said talk of help still came to their car, but she told The Associated Press that “it’s not coming” and “no one was directing traffic.”

She added that, with traffic, “it’s every man for themselves” and “that sucks.”

Monday Mess Started With a Truck

The mess began Monday morning with a jackknifed truck, a chain reaction of cars losing control. The Associated Press said that traffic in both directions got blocked. 

Hours passed, and night fell, stranding many who took to social media to talk about low fuel. They also had little food and water. 

The Travis family had no breakfast, lunch, or snacks, as did many stranded people.

Their Florida vacation started well with a visit to Universal Studios in Orlando. Then, their Sunday and Monday flights home got canceled. The family opted to drive home to Sterling in northern Virginia. 

After 11 hours of driving, the family got caught in a backup near Stafford. They left the interstate for U.S. Route 1, but Google Maps put them back on the interstate.

Within minutes, the Travis clan was stuck back in traffic. As temperatures plummeted into the teens, they took stretch breaks outside the car. They turned the car off at times to save fuel. But you can only play so many games of Harry Potter trivia. Feelings of anger and frustration grew.

No Help Despite Governor Tweet?

The Travis family said they never saw police or state troopers during most of their interstate time. The Virginia residents saw a Tweet from Gov. Ralph Northam talking about help on the way, but they didn’t see any.

The family and others found themselves stuck from 1:30 a.m. to around 9 a.m. When plows came, they couldn’t get past broken down cars, so they’d get stuck. Jennifer Travis said, “other cars would come up behind the plow truck so that they could follow behind them.”

After escaping the interstate, the family got caught up in Route 17 traffic again. Travis saw downed trees and powerlines along with skidded cars. Snow sat as plows couldn’t keep up with the congestion..

Jennifer Travis blamed the governor’s efforts while figuring out if her family would have to pay another car rental day. She also had to figure out her pet situation with the pet sitter.

When the road opened back up, the Travis family took a new way north with lots of “calculated risks with backroads.” That charted path did not get them closer to food, but by 3:30 Tuesday, they were almost an hour from home.