National Guard To Help Thousands Trapped On I-55 & I-40 In Arkansas

(WREG-TV) Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe now said the state is doing what it can to help thousands of drivers stuck on I-55 and I-40 in his state.

It’s estimated several thousand people are stuck on I-55 from West Memphis to the Missouri border and West Memphis to Forrest City on I-40 east.

The Arkansas National Guard was requested by Troop D in Forrest City to assist state troopers trying to help those who are stuck on Monday night and again on Tuesday.

Soldiers are also helping to asses road conditions on Interstates 40 and 55.

Some people say they’ve been stranded for more than 12 hours.

“We would move a little bit, and then we would stop. Then stay there for an hour or two and move a little bit more and then stop,” said John Rose. It took him more than 12 hours to move 55 miles on Interstate 55.

He wants to know why the state wasn’t more prepared.

The Highway Patrol said it did put a brine mix on the roads, and it sent out 1,000 crew members when the storm hit early Monday morning.

However, a spokesperson said crews had trouble getting to the problem areas, because of the massive traffic delays.

Governor Beebe said, “National Guard teams and State Troopers are checking on motorists to make sure there are no health emergencies. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is helping transport fuel to vehicles that have run out of gas.”

Beebe also said damaged cars and construction areas have complicated the problem.

Authorities are advising drivers to stay off the roads until Wednesday morning until crews can clear them.

There are reports of people running out of fuel and food.

One person wrote to us saying, “URGENT! Someone please help! My 7 month pregnant daughter and 9 month old grandchild are traveling on the east bound I-40 Between little rock, AR and Memphis, TN. They are out of water to make formula for the baby!”

An update to the above email: The daughter was able to get water at a hotel but no room. She and her daughter are sleeping in their car.

Another wrote, “I-40 trapped in construction zone for hours. 18 degrees no place to pullover. No bathroom. Rationing heat. Left Dallas at 9:30 yesterday morning and still can’t get through Memphis. Winter weather is not foreign to Arkansas does the governor model himself after Chris Christie? Is this a political payback. It is another Atlanta too. There is no reason to have roads untreated and why is I40 shut down. The accident was cleared hours ago! Help get us off this road”

Arkansas authorities have provided little to no information about what they are doing, but drivers are using social media to vent frustration.

Full statement from Governor Beebe:

LITTLE ROCK – Throughout Tuesday morning, Governor Beebe and his staff have been coordinating State efforts to assist motorists stranded on Interstates 40 and 55 in East Arkansas. National Guard teams and State Troopers are checking on motorists to make sure there are no health emergencies. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is helping transport fuel to vehicles that have run out of gas.

The Arkansas State Police has been working throughout the night to clear damaged vehicles. Construction zones along both Interstates have exacerbated the backups and response delays.

Any questions about the conditions of the roads themselves should be directed to the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, which is constitutionally independent from the governor’s office and other State agencies.