Frozen in time: Flomaton chief tells of being stranded on I-65

Published 11:00am Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Just like a scene from “The Day After Tomorrow,” Bryan and Stephanie Davis were stranded on the road Tuesday night — surrounded by abandoned vehicles, blinding ice/snow and thousands of others in the same position.

“Things started slowing down around 4 p.m.,” Davis said of his Tuesday trek toward Huntsville. “We were only moving a few inches at a time, until we got word around 10 p.m.that I-65 was closed due to ice.”

Davis, who was accompanied by his wife Stephanie, said getting to an exit or even to the side of the road was impossible.

“We got stuck just south of the I-459 split on I-65 and there was no pulling off the road,” Davis said. “The emergency lanes were filled, and all four lanes of the interstate were full of cars.”

Davis did say a Birmingham AM radio station kept stranded motorists informed and entertained throughout the long, cold night.

“Big truck drivers who were also stranded called into the station to let people know they had food and water to share if they needed it,” Davis said. “We saw a lot of people out passing around any kind of food and drinks they had to people stranded near them. There were agencies who sent out buses to rescue some people from the interstate, but there were so many others just stranded.”

Davis said he and his wife stayed in their car throughout the night, using their computer and the radio to keep them company.

“We just did the best we could,” Davis said. “We are OK now.”

Davis said once the roadway was re-opened Wednesday morning, travel wasn’t much better.

“I literally drove 15 miles per hour,” Davis said. “One of the main problems is manuvering around cars that were left abandoned. We have really seen probably 5,000 cars in ditches, flipped or wrecked some how. We’ve seen big trucks that have slipped off the road of jack-knifed. It really is like a scene from that movie ‘The Day After Tomorrow’.”

Davis said turning back was not an option Wednesday morning.

“There just isn’t any way to turn back now,” Davis said. “The roads are just as bad south of us and the traffic is horrible, too. Folks traveling south are going just as slowly as we are heading north. We’ve decided to just keep going.”

Davis, along with dozens of other police department chiefs from across the state, were en-route to a police chief conference in Huntsville when the ice/snow storm hit.

Alabama Department of Transportation officials are opening roads as conditions improve across the state.

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