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

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(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.


  • Freda

    One thing just follows another. They couldn’t treat the roads because of the rain ( it would just wash off). Then apparently people didn’t listen when they were told to stay home or in a safe place. So they got stuck on the frozen roads. The trucks couldn’t treat roads that had traffic bumper to bumper so now we have people (stuck on frozen roads) that are cold and hungry and out of gas. I pray everyone gets home or to where they are going safely but please don’t blame all of this on us poor Arkansans.

    • lisa

      If the rain just washes the salt off the road then why was the traffic just fine going the opposite direction. And no one knows why these people were out there. How can blame be put on them. I hope you are never stuck in one spot on a hwy at night alone or even with someone.And we are talking about an interstate hwy here.You say the people knew in advance but obviously the hwy dept must not have or it would not have been a problem. Or they just decided that everyone would just stay off that Major interstate hwy. For your information my daughter was on that hwy for 16 hours alone at night.stuck in traffic. I talked to her all night long with her having panic attacks. she finally fell asleep. and less than an hr after was awakened by a police car driving by .so that everyone could spend another hr driving 1 mile down the rd.

    • George

      This happened on a Sunday, there was nothing done to the roads. NOTHING. Only state around to have troubles.

  • I like to watch idiots talk like idiots.

    It’s funny to listen to people talk on here like they know what’s going on. The same people that were bashing the weather men the other day before all of this started. People should have stayed off the road and other people should have kept there mouth shut. Got a problem with that come see me.

    • I like to watch idiots talk like idiots.

      Before it’s all said and done with it will be some black or white guys fault and some politician was backing them with the way y’all will describe it

  • Amber

    WOW!!! So noone on I-55 watched the weather reports before traveling. Seriously? The people stuck on that interstate are blaming the state and state agencies? Hmmm… I heard the weather report a week before the storm, made sure myself and my family were prepared for this and kept myself at home. But hey, if there aren’t some people out there willing to put the Guard and all the other agencies people in harms way, they have no job security, right?

    • Joe Censored

      Yea Amber, that approach would make sense, BUT since the weather guys hear hype every forecast to boost ratings and their “predictions” are WRONG 99.9% of the time, it is kind of difficult to take them seriously.

      • Amber

        Guess I could kinda see your point if they hadn’t predicted the weather with a whole lot of certainty this time. The weather in Arkansas has always been hard to predict. I will pray everyone makes it off that road safely!
        THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to all the people out there putting themselves in danger for others! You guys rock!

  • Joe Censored

    LOL… what would the southerners do if it ever REALLY snowed?!?!?! Die!!! Total incompetence . Say what you want, but in Cleveland we can get ice w/ 3 feet of snow on top of it and the roads are cleared within hours. Public safety failure by the public works depts at its worst. Should have have SALT trucks out as the rain changed over. Not sand… not freaking potato juice… not black ground up whatever. SALT melts snow and ice. Amazing how as soon as you cross the Missouri line, roads are clear. Freaking amazing, huh?

    Arkansas Incompetence Representing!!!

    • common sense

      Guess you didn’t hear about that nation-wide salt shortage, did you? It’s been in the news for, oh, about two months now.

      • Joe Censored

        Guess you did not noticed that we have not had hardly any wintry precip this winter, just cold… So the stockpiles are plentiful. Lets stay on point with what is in our backyard, not other cities. Typical, trying to make excuses instead of dealing with the failures.

  • Jeremy

    If it didn’t take 10 years to fix there highways it wouldn’t be like this. I drive truck and they been working on the same spot for 2 years now…. Get it together and do your job stop standing around…. Prepare the roads before the storm not a day later when it’s too late

  • James

    I live in East Tennessee and had no idea that the INTERSTATE was closed due to ice. Left this morning and hit Memphis at 6pm, it’s 9:30 and we had gone about 10miles sence crossing the state line. Watched the national news this morning, no mention of I 40 westbound being shit down. The east bound lanes are open, guess the ice only froze on the west bound lanes. I have to agree, incompetence!!!!

    • traci

      i left nashville at 11:00 monday morning heading west on I-40. i DID check the weather and road conditions before i left. and couldn’t find anything about highway closures or impassable road conditions. when i got to memphis, the surface of I-40 changed drastically for the worst! when i got through west memphis, i realized i was in a pickle! i wanted to turn around or to get off at an exit and find a hotel, but there wasn’t any way to do that. the first exit i came to (i think it was 256?) was closed and they had barrels across it. i was stuck for several hours either at a dead stop or barely crawling along. finally made it to forrest city and got a room. i also found a lady and her daughter who i let share my room since i had an extra bed. i feel like the authorities should have never let people get on I-40 for that stretch between memphis and brinkley in the first place. they should have shut it down entirely and cleared it off. glad to be home now!

  • LS

    Am worried sick about my parents driving from Columbus Ohio to Forrest City, AR today. At 5:30 they were past West Memphis 19 miles from their hotel in Forrest City. Is traffic moving?? Is someone getting food/gas to,people in that specific area?

  • Ralph m

    This is the worst I have seen the roads,but the cities and the state needs to listen to us the roads are not being take care of we pay taxes and then we expect to wake up with better condition that we had I am sorry I don’t see it

  • George

    Four day notice, my truck I drive was covered in salt this past year, right now, it looks like it is clean by a car wash, why? Because the lies of the Arkansas DOT and the Governors office, saying they were ready for this! FOUR DAYS NOTICE, I live on the Arkansas State Line Missouri residents say the road traffic stops are Ark line, Tenn to Ark same. The Gov and DOT is banking on the warm weekend. Really, they could care less. They need to think about taking away there Federal Highway money. 55 is a joke even on a good day. Makes for great news. We are doing what we can. Blytheville is out of gasoline, Walmart and Lowes in Blytheville is covered with semis. Burger King, out of food, supermarkets the same. No National Guard troops though. That is a good one.

  • Learning experience

    Bad situation that can be lesson to everyone – involved or not. Always always always be prepared to take care of yourself. Have a kit in your car with warmers, flashlights, batteries, dry food, water, toilet paper, blankets, poncho … Especially with the crazy weather in Arkansas! We’ve been packing bags like this for kids field trips for years, but how many in Arkansas or elsewhere have this little bit of stuff for survival in their vehicle? Doesn’t even take much room.

  • Lonnie

    Atlanta had their problemed roads taken care of twelve hours later with less equipment and knowledge , 50 hrs later Arkansas and yes only a hindrance on westbound side because ice always travels west! This is an absolute joke been sitting since 5pm Tuesday and I just saw a 70 year ol tough as nails lady get out of the car in front of me to stretch a bit , total b.s.

  • This is Arkansas

    OBTW, This is Arkansas, saddest excuse I ever heard. If they took the four days of warnings salted at noon to memphis, then we would not have this. Arkansas DOT is CONTRACTED, so someone got a but load of money to wait for the weather to turn. Good For him!!

  • Terry walker

    I left pinebluff ark to memphis at 3pm mon traveling to memphis a three hour drive. I didn’t make it to memphis til tues at 12 noon. I never been da one to say someone needs to get fired but in this case its terrible. I’m an otr never seen nothing like it no excuses Arkansas!

  • Bobby Stokes

    Stop all the crying like a baby, all of you who took the chance to cross that bridge to Arkansas or to Memphis, its over. You can’t change the way the process went and you surely can’t change the way it turned out. You people are bitching and complaining for nothing. It happened and it will probably happen again. Bitching and calling people names, and calling Arkansas Incompetence will not solve the problem whether you like it or not. Grow-up and get over it and just be ready for the mishaps that happens in life from time to time.

    Attitudes won’t change the situation. You truckers ought to know better!!

  • yes i am from arkansas

    I have to agree, unfortunately, with the disgruntled drivers. I have an Arkansas residence, and a Tennessee residence. and must say that Tennessee was hit with the same storm as Arkansas. And 100% yes, our AR roads were not taken care of like Tennessee & Missouri. People that are use to driving in winter weather conditions are use to having roads at least treated. Maybe road crews were taken off guard, maybe people should have stayed home. But there is no excuse for people that I have spoken with- and witnessed-being stuck at an i40 Arkansas exit for 2or3 days. Not saying anyone should be fired… i see people helping people and law enfor ement braving the elements to help As well… i mean let’s all try to make the best of a bad situation. Let’s all continue to help each other, as I have personally witnessed, and learn from this. Love & help thy neighbor and brother.

  • Amber

    The biggest problem I see is a total failure to communicate to drivers what is up ahead. Arkansas has “planned” road work and you never know how bad it will be. Some days are a breeze with no stops, the next time you try it, it’s hours to go a few miles. The AM radio station for road conditions is a joke. It’s been the same pre-recorded message for years. When they FINALLY finished working on the 1-40 bridge over the White River, it took them weeks to bother to come pick up the orange barrels that had the interstate down to one lane. IMO, AR Dot does not care if you are stuck in Arkansas. I agree, fire the head idiot.
    By the way, everyone that keeps saying – Stay home, you knew the weather would be bad…The vast majority of the drivers stranded are truck drivers who were hauling stuff for you to go buy at Wal-Mart or have delivered to your little front door so that you didn’t have to leave your house. How do you think the Doritos and snacks actually got to the store so you can lay up on the couch for days? It’s not magic.

  • Mary

    Just saying, to everyone blaming the motorists. We traveled north through Mississippi to TN. No problem until Memphis, where obviously ice was a problem (12 hours earlier the TV reports we got in Alabama stated that the roads in Memphis were melting – all looked relatively good) Took an hour to cross the Mississippi on I-55 into Arkansas. While on the bridge, it was obvious that the Arkansas roads were NOWHERE near as well-kept as TN roads. Got on the internet, scoped out Twitter, road conditions, etc. Turned around THE SECOND we could on the west side of the bridge. Went north on US-51 in TN – a BACKROAD compared to I-55 through Ark. US-51 was completely passable. I-155 was icy, but again, passable. Crossed the river on I-155 to Missouri and picked up I-55 northbound there. Kudos to Missouri – GREAT JOB!!! Two clear lanes from Hayti on north (and from what I hear, from the ARK-MO state line north).
    Arkansas messed up BIG TIME. People were desperately tweeting to AHTD asking for info and got NOTHING! Then AHTD tweeted that I-55 was open, when in fact, it was NOT!! MAJOR FAIL ARKANSAS!!
    That trip was on MONDAY NIGHT. Here it is WEDNESDAY NIGHT and the signs on I-55 in ST. LOUIS say not to travel through ARKANSAS on I-55 or I-40 because the roads are STILL ICE COVERED!!
    How can anyone blame anyone other than ARK Highway department? Could they not have disseminated information? Could they not have headed southbound on the northbound side to start freeing stranded motorists? Could they not have called the National Guard sooner to feed the poor, trapped motorists? Pathetic!

  • Cornelia Tiller

    I am a 58 year old female. I was traveling across county and I left Sweetwater, TX around 9 AM the morning of March 4th. I had watched the news and looked at the weather on line. My car radio doesn’t work, but my i-pad and i-phone were connected to travel apps. The roads were still normal coming through Little Rock, headed east. Occasionally, there were signs that said,”Expect delays, take alternate routes.” But on the news that morning, I had heard that only major roads were clear, to stay off of side roads and streets. All of a sudden, at about 6:30 in the evening, a complete standstill a few miles west of Brinkley. Originally, I thought, ‘”patience,’ it will open up, it always does.” I mention my age and my gender because, hopefully, I am a bit wiser than I was in my youth. From looking at the reports, the highway patrol and the national guard knew that the interstate was completely blocked, and would be for another night. Announcements in Little Rock would have convinced me to spend the night, or even explanations of which “alternate routes” to take, and if they were safe and clear. As it was, 6 hours later by 12:30 AM, I finally was able to get off at Palestine. The one small hotel was full. What was served by me spending the night in my car, cold and uncomfortable, when forewarned, I would have stayed in Little Rock. Ecologically, I would have saved 6 hours of gasoline. And the 21 miles I traveled in 6 hours, did not help my arrival time at my destination.
    I have to agree. Incompetence

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