Us & Them: Trapped on the Turnpike


On Friday, January 22nd, I was in New York City preparing to head to West Virginia. So was a blizzard called Jonas.

The blizzard that took the East Coast by storm hadn’t hit by the time I rolled into in Harrisburg, PA.  I was assured by meteorologists that I shouldn’t try driving down I-79 to Charleston, but that I could make it to Pittsburgh without encountering snow. This podcast tracks my experience on the Pennsylvania Turnpike between the Bedford and Somerset exits and the TWENTY-SEVEN AND A HALF hours I remained there, trapped in snow.

Despite the crowd-control talk from the Turnpike Command Center, claiming the National Guard had been sent to deliver food and water to the thousands of stranded drivers and passengers, the only visible relief was from rednecks on ATVs doing what they could to help us stranded folks endure the long, cold wait. While we in the west-bound lane sat frozen in the snow, the east-bound traffic was moving as free as you please and for most of the day, there were no police or emergency workers checking on peoples’ safety.

This podcast examines both the literal divide of the road’s Jersey divider wall and the State government whose lack of proper communication and instillation of confidence to the stranded was a deterrent of assurance and better understanding.

Us & Them is a joint project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting and Trey Kay Productions, with support from the West Virginia Humanities Council.

You can subscribe to Us & Them on iTunes and Stitcher, and listen on the podcast’s website.