UPDATE: I-65 shut down near Elizabethtown, hundreds of motorists stranded

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Interstate 65 is impassable through Hart, LaRue and Hardin Counties and traffic is backed up for miles into other counties as hundreds of motorists are stranded on the highway, according to the Kentucky State Police.

Dispatchers tell WDRB News that I-65 is shut down in both directions at the 98 mile marker. They estimate more than 200 semi trucks alone are stranded, some drivers have been stuck for more than 12 hours.

There are no reports of injuries or of people who have run out of gas, but if they do run out of gas, dispatchers are advising them to "find the nearest stranded motorist and see if they can pile in with them."

An emergency number is now setup for stranded motorists to request assistance: (270) 765-5978. Travelers who require immediate attention (only) will be taken to Prichard Community Center in Elizabethtown.

In addition, the Kentucky National Guard has deployed nearly 100 units across the commonwealth to help stranded motorists and citizens dig out from all of the snow -- a number that will increase as the day goes on.

“Obviously we have a significant weather event in front of us and so as we have stranded motorists on I-65, we have deployed elements down there to help the stranded motorists," said Lt. Col. Kirk Hilbrecht with the Kentucky National Guard.

Chris Jessie with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 4 in Elizabethtown said crashes that occurred at the onset of winter precipitation Wednesday night created long traffic backup segments between Munfordville (Exit 65) and Lebanon Junction (Exit 105).

"KYTC crews were unable to get to these areas in a timely manner and snows have accumulated around stopped vehicles," he said.

Hilbrecht said the National Guard is also helping Hardin County and Marshall County with ambulance assists, which means "we're going to shadow ambulances that go on call, so, where they can go no further because of snow, we can either offload EMS personnel or ambulatory patients to our Humvees and then continue to move on to the hospital or deliver whatever kind of aid they need.”

“Also, we're covering in western Kentucky, the I-24 corridor, between mile marker 16 and 86, which is pretty much the stretch of I-24, also helping stranded motorists in that location as well.”

Hilbrecht said to his knowledge, none of the stranded motorists are injured or in danger.

"We just deployed them forward – our elements forward – so we have not gotten a situation assessment yet from those elements, but we are prepared to take care of any kind of contingency whether the motorists are stranded, or they need water, food, a warm cup of coffee or any kind of aid," he said.

Lindsey Berry from Rineyville has been stuck in her car on Interstate 65 near the Upton exit since leaving Western Kentucky University around 7 p.m. Wednesday night. She left the university around 6:30 p.m., she said.

"They canceled classes for the rest of the week and spring break is all next week, so we were trying to get home," she told WDRB News at 10:30 a.m. Thursday. "We have been stuck for 12 1/2 hours now."

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This story will be updated.

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