Mark Robertson

Mark Robertson

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A bread truck helps motorists stranded on icy I-95 with no food or water

Hundreds of cars were stranded this week on icy Interstate 95 with no food or water and no way to get it.

One couple traveling from Maryland to North Carolina got an idea.

The couple spotted a Schmidt Baking Company truck just a few cars ahead of them about 9 a.m. Tuesday. At that point, they estimated, it had been approximately 37 hours since they had last eaten.

“We were starving,” said Casey Holihan,who at the time was at a standstill near Quantico. “People around us were very much struggling as well. We could hear kids crying.”

They decided to call Schmidt Baking Company in Baltimore hoping they would offer to share some of the bread in the truck with hungry travelers.

They and countless other people, some of whom were trapped on I-95 for close to 24 hours after snow and ice triggered an overnight shutdown — were desperate for food.

Just 20 minutes later, Chuck Paterakis, one of the owners of H&S Bakery, which operates Schmidt Baking Company, called the couple directly. He advised them to go to the truck, then instructed the driver to offer up two products — one package of rolls and one loaf of bread — to any person who wanted them.

Along with the truck driver, Ron Hill, the couple started grabbing loaves of bread off the truck and distributing them to the surrounding vehicles. Others swiftly joined their efforts.

Although spending an entire night on a highway was scary and stressful for everyone, by morning, “we developed a tiny little community that won’t be quickly forgotten,” she added.

To them, Paterakis’s generous gesture was the most memorable part of an otherwise awful experience.

“He didn’t have to help us. He could have made a profit off that bread,” Holihan said. “It was really heartwarming.”

Sometimes winter weather can be so severe that drivers get trapped on the road for hours, or even overnight. So what can you do to prepare in case of this emergency? The American Red Cross says first, you should have an emergency kit stashed in your car with things like blankets, flashlights, nonperishable foods, liquids, and extra batteries. Next, if you're caught in snow and shelter or help isn’t visible within 100 yards, you should stay inside your vehicle. If possible, put a brightly colored cloth out of your window or tie it to your antenna to indicate distress. In cold temperatures, run the vehicle for no more than 10 minutes every hour to heat the cabin and preserve fuel. Also, make sure the exhaust pipe is clear, and the windows are cracked open to avoid letting exhaust fumes in. You should also keep huddled together inside the car with others to preserve heat, make sure to move your arms and legs occasionally, and stay hydrated. Finally, try not to sleep if you’re alone, but if you’re stranded for an extended period of time with others, take turns sleeping and keep an eye on one another. 

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