HOOD RIVER, OR (KPTV) - An extended closure stranded hundreds of people on Interstate 84 in the Columbia River Gorge.
The Oregon Department of Transportation shut down westbound I-84 from Hood River to Cascade locks early Wednesday morning due to severe weather and subsequent crashes.
The highway was back open Wednesday night, which was great news for drivers stuck in the area.
By mid-morning Wednesday, people began pouring into Cascade Locks looking for food, gasoline and a place to use the bathroom.
“All night we were here, not even moving,” said stranded driver Hector Cepeda.
Cepeda said his plan was to head back home to Tacoma yesterday, but just past Hood River he was greeted by brake lights and stopped traffic.
“I just said I am going to close my eyes and maybe in a couple hours somebody will wake me up when they honk,” he said. “Turned out nobody honked at me until 7 in the morning, because nobody moved until 7 in the morning.”
Some drivers expressed frustration about drivers who ignored chain requirements, as well as the condition of the highway.
ODOT reported that the area was pre-treated with de-icer, sand and salt, but their efforts were lessened due to severe weather conditions in the Gorge.
Although our crews monitored weather 24/7, had extensive plans, pre-treated the area with deicer, sand and salt, the Gorge’s unique microclimate and multiple microburst snow and ice storms Tuesday and early Wednesday morning lessened the impact of our efforts.— Oregon DOT (@OregonDOT) February 13, 2019
“We were stuck for about 18 hours. Finally got out. Definitely one of those things that could have been fully preventable,” said driver Andy Perry.
ODOT crews worked throughout the day to clear the roadways. Some stranded drivers had been cleared by Wednesday afternoon.
Oregon State Police troopers brought food, water and gasoline to stopped drivers.
We have seen amazing spirits among the stranded, as well as locals braving the weather to assist as they can. Our Troopers wish they had more and could reach everyone, but they are still trying. pic.twitter.com/n6FPIQx1e0— Oregon State Police (@ORStatePolice) February 13, 2019
“I always thought I wanted to go on the show ‘Survivor,’ and I don’t think I am cut for that anymore after this,” said stranded driver Lindsay Taylor.
FOX 12 Wednesday night spoke with a band that missed their show in Portland because of closure.
Born of Osiris band members said they were stranded in a nearby Walmart parking lot for two days, "playing tic-tac-toe and Uno and hanging out doing nothing".
The band said they were supposed to play in Seattle Tuesday night and Portland Wednesday night.
Band members and other drivers FOX 12 spoke with said they were happy to hit the road again Wednesday after it reopened.
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