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'It turned into a nightmare' | Hampton Roads residents stuck in I-95 standstill for more than 20 hours

Two residents from Hampton Roads were just returning from their long New Year's weekend celebrations, and didn't expect to sit in traffic for almost a whole day.

NORFOLK, Va. — Talut Carter says he was leaving Washington D.C. area around 3 p.m. on Monday to head back home to Virginia Beach, following a long weekend celebrating the New Year with friends.

It didn't take long for traffic to start building up on the snowy road, and eventually, he came to a complete stop on the highway.

Carter was one of hundreds of drivers across Interstate-95 and other neighboring highways in Northern Virginia who were stuck in limbo. Virginia state leaders say the backup initially stemmed from a crash involving six tractor-trailers. It is now clear of disabled vehicles, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation.

This crash and the following 24-hour gridlock came not long after Virginia State Police urged drivers to stay off the roads if they could, because of poor weather conditions.

Carter, who had to sleep overnight in his Toyota Camry, ended up sitting on the highway for more than 21 hours before he was re-directed to Route 1 -- and then, still only moved inch by inch with fellow drivers. 

He said he struggled for over an hour to turn his car back on, but with the help of other drivers, was able to jumpstart it. He was worried about running out of gas overnight.

"I have been communicating with my family and letting them know I'm okay," Carter explained, as he sat in his car in the gridlock Tuesday morning. "I'm the kind of person to try to stay as positive as possible, but if this gets to 24 hours, I'm definitely going to hit a wall."

Carter said he noticed some truck drivers hauling tractor-trailers who would go around and give food out to people who needed it. He said he felt worried for people who were running out of gas or couldn't restart their cars.

It was the same situation for Army veteran Glenn London, who was just trying to get back to his Newport News home. 

He told 13News Now he tried taking different routes on smaller roadways to avoid the traffic, but the weather still got in the way. 

With little gas left in his tank, he tried filling up at the closest gas station, but the pumps were closed.

"I had to stay at the gas station overnight," said London as he sat in his car. "It wasn't until five or six in the morning when they reopened and luckily, I could get gas."

London said many of the drivers pulled into a nearby Walmart parking lot where people tried helping each other with their cars, and made sure they had access to water or food.

"It makes you feel good seeing that," said London. "It's definitely been a long night and I'm ready to get home."

In the mix of those drivers were also people who were trying to get to the D.C. area, including Virginia Senator Tim Kaine. 

After sitting in the car along the highway for about 27 hours, Kaine said he finally returned to his office Tuesday afternoon where he got back to work.

London said he was able to get back home to Newport News.

When 13News Now last spoke with Carter, he said he was finally making movement on Route 1. Leaders with the Virginia Department of Transportation in Fredricksburg say crews cleared all disabled vehicles and are clearing the rest of the minor traffic to allow plows to come in and clear the roadway.

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