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Local businesses in rural Montana give out free food and lodging to hundreds of travelers stranded by dangerous high winds

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I-90 in Livingston MTI-90 outside Big Timber Saturday morning.

Montana Department of Transportation

  • Hundreds were stranded outside Big Timber, Montana, this week after I-90 shut down. 
  • Local businesses lent a helping hand to feed and house motorists. 
  • “It just speaks to what this small town has done for people,” one bakery owner told Insider. 

After hundreds of drivers were stranded in rural Montana this week due to inclement weather, business owners in the small town of Big Timber banded together to provide assistance. 

The marooned visitors — who found themselves stuck in the town after Interstate 90 was shut down due to high winds and dangerous driving conditions — were welcomed with special accommodations and warm hospitality. Several were even surprised with free pizzas from a local bakery, which stayed open late to help out in the cold. 

“That’s how this small town is — people do that for each other,” Teb Seifu, owner of Big Timber Bakery, told Insider. 

Seifu said the decision to keep his doors open to serve the stranded motorists — many of them commercial truck drivers — came quickly, and followed suit with other local business owners. He said his brother-in-law opened the doors at KOA Campground, normally closed this time of year, to provide accommodations. 

“These people were stranded, sleeping in their cars,” Seifu told Insider. “It just speaks to what this small town has done for people.”

He said he delivered a pizza to a local sheriff monitoring the highway whose eyes widened as soon as he saw the pie. 

“I don’t think that he made it into his car before he scarfed down the first piece,” Seifu said. 

Stranded travelers told local TV station KTVQ they were able to find hotel rooms for the night, and lauded the locals of Big Timber. 

“They turned their fireplace on and let people sleep out here in the dining room, and even the laundry room and hallways,” traveling nurse Jessica Lee told KTVQ from a local hotel. “They did what they could just to get them out of the cold.”

Anna Weatherspoon was on a road trip to Washington when they were rear-ended on the icy highway, KTVQ reported. They stayed in town for a couple nights while they set up a flight out of Billings, Montana, according to KTVQ. 

“Not ideal, but you know, we’re safe,” Weatherspoon said. “The people here are extraordinary. I guess it’s the little-town effect.”

The weather in Big Timber has subsided since earlier this week, and temperatures reached 40 degrees Saturday morning. But Seifu said the night lending a helping hand was a good reminder of what it means to live in a small town. 

“I think it just speaks volumes of what kind of people live here,” he said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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