Interstate 40 traffic creeps through the construction zone. Gov. Mike Beebe has ordered National Guard units and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to assist Arkansas State Police Troop D with helping stranded interstate travelers. Photo by Kendall Owens.
Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe is sending in National Guard units and the Arkansas Game and Fish Department to assist Arkansas State Police troops in Eastern Arkansas with motorists who are stranded on area roadways.
According to Matt DeCample, spokesman for Beebe, Arkansas National Guard teams are being sent to this area to provide assistance on I-40 and I-55.
"There are teams heading to both I-40 and I-55 to help with the situation over there. State Police has been doing what it can to help, but there is only so much they can do. The National Guard teams will provide blankets and so forth for people who have been stuck overnight, and Game and Fish is also sending crews over to help deliver gas to people who have been stranded and have run out of gas," said DeCample. "It's just a bad situation, and it doesn't help that the area that has been most heavily impacted is the area where we have two major construction projects under way."
Arkansas State Police Troop D Captain Jackie Clark said troopers, along with St. Francis County Sheriff's Department deputies and Game and Fish officers, have been working to assist as many motorists as possible since the storm began.
"We appreciate as much help as we can get. We're asking that people remain with their vehicles. We don't want a situation like we've seen in other parts of the country this winter. It's too dangerous out there, and it's safest if they just stay with their car. We will get to them, and if it's not us, the sheriff's department has been helping us and so has Game and Fish. They have been providing gas to people who have gotten out there and run out just trying to keep warm while they're stuck in traffic," said Clark.
Sheriff Bobby May said deputies are helping wherever they can.
"We've been helping on the interstate, and we've been helping out here in town as well," said May.
"We were forewarned about this storm, but I don't think any of us thought it was going to be to this extent. We’re all working together to do what we can to help people. It is just a mess. We're getting gas and supplies to people on the interstate, and 70, coming from Madison to Forrest City, has been awful with the trucks not being able to get up those hills and inclines," said May.
May urges residents to stay off roads unless absolutely necessary.
"It is treacherous out here; just dangerous. People need to stay home unless it is an absolute emergency. No one needs to risk their life on this unless it is an emergency, and it's best to just stay home and wait it out," said May.