Hundreds stranded on I-12 for up to 28 hours over weekend
Some motorists spent as many as 24 hours stranded on Interstate 12 in the literal wake of this weekend’s torrential downpours and resulting flooding.
WWL-TV Reporter Lauren Bale was at the scene, and she said some motorists tried to make the best of a terrible situation by turning the stretch of roadway into a makeshift community.
Scenes of compassion unfolded with some truck driver even allowing mothers with small children to get some air-conditioned refuge in their cabs. One trucker even reportedly cracked into the stash of produce he was hauling to share it with his fellow strandees. Another trucker made spaghetti and then used his horn to announce it was ready.
"We got together and whoever needed anything we just all chipped in," said one of the motorists. “Take lemons and make lemonade I guess right?”
By the time some rescue crew members arrived at the scene, they said they were amazed at what they encountered.
"It almost brings tears to your eyes, the idea that they were happy to just be getting water and some basic supplies," said Tangipahoa Parish President Robby Miller.
While some motorists did indeed try to make the best of the situation, others weren’t so content. With no way to turn around and high water blocking the way forward, many people trapped on I-12 complained of a lack of water, food and information. The heat and humidity of Louisiana in August remained unrelenting.
"It is hot and humid and there is no place for anybody to go," said Julie Cobb, who spoke with WWL-TV. She told them she and her family were headed for Destin from their home in Texas.
"People are not prepared for this situation," she said in a telephone interview. "You just don't realize what is going on.”
Red Cross helicopters responded to the situation, trying to get as many supplies as were needed to the stranded vehicles. Elsewhere, every rescue worker was engaged in a massive fight to save people from water that was still rising. MREs were even air-dropped from the helicopters.
WWL said a convenience store that was just off the route had its shelves cleared quickly. A church allowed stranded motorists to use the bathroom, though the single toilet did little to allay the bathroom-based woes of the occupants of more than 100 vehicles.
Cobb said they alternated running the AC and turning the vehicle off to conserve fuel as the wait stretched from inconvenience to full-blown nightmare. Sleeping in the vehicle was attempt, but it was far from a restful sleep for obvious reasons.
High water vehicles were dispatched as Louisiana State Police worked to evacuate the occupants of more than 100 vehicles.