North Carolina doesn’t often see snow, so when a winter storm blew into town Monday morning and dropped sheets of sleet and a few flurries downtown, it was big news. But the confusion and chaos the storm created in Raleigh was nothing compared to what was happening 230 miles north. 

In Washington, D.C., that same winter storm dropped about a foot of snow on roads and bridges, toppling trees and shutting down a section of I-95 north for more than a day. Hundreds of drivers were stranded on an ice and snow-covered highway, low on food, water, and gas, some for more than 24 hours. 

It wasn’t all bad news, however. In the whirlwind of holiday misfortunes—new COVID cases, bad weather, and canceled flights—The Washington Post documented a rare bit of good news this week. A short story by reporter Sydney Page recounts how one stranded couple helped a local bakery distribute fresh bread to other struggling motorists. It’s a quick read and a bit cheesy, but a welcome light in the darkness that’s surrounded the new year. 

Casey Holihan and her husband, John Noe, had been stuck in their car for about 16 hours when they got an idea, Page writes. They spotted a Schmidt Baking Company truck ahead of them, and after 37 hours without food, were willing to try anything to get their hands on something to eat. 

“They decided to call Schmidt Baking Company in Baltimore in the hope that maybe it would be willing to offer whatever products were on the truck to hungry travelers. The couple knew it was a long shot, but 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.”

The couple left their phone number with a customer service representative, without much hope. But just 20 minutes later, the owner of the baking company called them, directing the truck driver to give out packages of bread and rolls to any who needed them. 

For about an hour, the couple trekked down the icy highway along with the driver, handing out about 300 packages of bread. 

“[Holihan] heard stories from families with young children who were stuck with no food for hours on end,” the story reads. “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.”

Their story is one of the dozens that sprang from the highway crisis as travelers banded together to help each other through a night of freezing temperatures. Perhaps there really always is a silver lining. 

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