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Highway Backup = Steady Customers At Roadside Businesses

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CORSICANA (CBSDFW.COM) – Travel along Interstate-45 in Corsicana has been a nightmare these last 24 hours. Officials with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) confirm that at its worst point there was a 20-mile backup in the southbound lanes of the interstate.

The backup left some drivers trapped for hours. The temporary “population increase” in the area had also meant lines of customers at businesses along the highway.

One particular gas station along I-45 turned into an important lifeline for stuck drivers. Employees provided supplies and much needed shelter. You could measure the impact of the ice by the number of coffee pots brewed.

Phil Clark never thought of his small convenience store as a rescue shelter, until he saw what was sitting in plain view at the store’s frontage road entrance.

The “ice block” outside turned the Angus Discount Market into a refuge for travelers close enough to walk to the shop.

Driver Kristi McFarland was on I-45 Monday, but is a resident of Georgia. “We are from Atlanta so we’ve just gone through two of these, so I don’t want to be stuck in another one,” she said.

Bruce and Dorothy Barton just had a few hours left on their journey to Galveston. The couple was bewildered at how such a huge backup could be caused by a little winter mix… of course, the Barton’s traveled to Texas from Canada.

Bruce said he certainly wasn’t expected this kind of weather. “I actually took my winter tires off and put my summer tires on, didn’t know it would be this bad this far south of Dallas/Fort Worth — to get this much snow.”

As stranded drivers flooded into the store, Clark and his crew helped people with purchases and dozens of others who lined up just for a bathroom break.

Instead of the three pots of coffee normally made at the Angus Market, the shop hit 25 by Noon. And instead of adhering to normal business hours, Clark kept the store open late Sunday night.

“I wouldn’t close down, because they needed bathroom coffee and all of that. We haven’t seen anything like that around here.”

There is good news for drivers.   As of about 4:30 p.m. DPS officials said the highway is now clear, but traffic is still thick near the Chambers Reservoir because it will take a while for the backup to unwind.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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