Blizzard Paralyzed Oklahoma As Vehicles Abandoned On Roadways

Friday, December 25th 2009, 8:53 pm
By: News 9

By Jeffrey Smith, The News On 6

TULSA, OK – Dozens of cars and trucks are stranded on Interstates, turnpikes and highways around Tulsa and Oklahoma City. ODOT crews said the sheer volume of stranded vehicles is the biggest obstacle in getting the roads clear.

Parts of both Tulsa and Oklahoma City turned into a ghost town in a matter of hours. On major interstates, drivers just gave up.

"People were getting stuck, getting scared to drive in it, visibility was low. They were just getting out and leaving their vehicles," said Martin Stewart of ODOT.

Other drivers took a gamble and lost. Tony Cherry was one of the many who walked away.

"I got a shovel and I couldn't do it. I almost got run over, people were all over the highway, it was a mess. So, we just packed up and went back to the house," said Tony Cherry, stranded driver.

Dozens of stranded cars littered the highways Christmas morning and it affected how city and state workers tackled the cleanup effort.

"What we've fought all night was creating paths to keep traffic moving," Stewart said.

On I-44, 2-44, I-69 cars popped up like weeds on the side of the road.

Plenty of other drivers got stuck, not in snow but in traffic.

A jack-knifed semi shut down all lanes on the Turner Turnpike. Traffic backed up for miles.

Some tow trucks picked up dozens of cars before lunch.

"Pretty busy, we have been at it all day, one right after another," said Richard Balderas of Monterrey Towing.

Ben Lopez drove up from Houston for the holidays but, like so many other drivers, got stuck in the snow on his trip.

"This is madness. You can't get anywhere. I mean, I see cars traveling along the highway, but it's the matter of getting to the highway, that seems to be the problem. Its deep and its slick and there's so much ice packed under the snow on the concrete, so you can't get traction," Lopez said.

ODOT crews said the biggest threat Friday night and Saturday morning will be black ice as the roads refreeze and temperatures remain below freezing.