RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia officials are defending their response to the snowy gridlock that resulted on Interstate 95 after a winter storm dumped nearly 11 inches of snow. Officials noted the storm that started as rain, meaning roads couldn’t be pretreated. It was followed by an unusually heavy snowfall and plunging temperatures. That created poor conditions that resulted in the stranding of hundreds of motorists overnight Monday into Tuesday along a stretch of one of the nation’s biggest interstate highways. Many motorists sent out pleas for help on social media and criticized the response from Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam says help is on the way to hundreds of motorists who spent a chilly night snowed in along on Interstate 95 after tractor-trailers lost control in the ice and snow and blocked traffic in Virginia. The impasse shut down the U.S. East Coast’s main north-south highway for about 50 miles and stranded drivers in both directions, in some cases for more than 20 hours. The Virginia Department of Transportation has been trying to take people off the roadway wherever they can be reached. Meanwhile people have posted increasingly desperate messages on social media, saying they’re running out of food, fuel and water in temperatures below freezing. Among those stranded: US Senator Tim Kaine, who posted a picture of his vehicle surrounded by tractor trailers.