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Rescue crews in Virginia have finished freeing the last of the travellers stranded overnight on a snowed-in highway, ending a crisis that had trapped thousands of people including US Senator Tim Kaine.
Kaine's routine commute from his Virginia home to Washington turned into a 27-hour ordeal when a blizzard made the road to the nation's capital impassable, stranding him and other motorists without food and water in the freezing cold.
A spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Transportation confirmed the last motorists were freed more than 24 hours after the storm.
Interstate 95, one of the busiest thoroughfares on the US east coast, was closed for hours in both directions near Fredericksburg, Virginia, about 89km south of Washington.
The region was blanketed by up to 30cm of snow.
Traffic on the 76km stretch of I-95 came to a standstill about 8pm local time on Monday and did not begin moving again until Tuesday afternoon.
Agency official Kelly Hannon said responders have also cleared the freeway of a number of abandoned cars and officials expect it to reopen to motorists by Wednesday morning.
For hours overnight and well after daybreak, hundreds of tractor-trailer trucks and cars lined the snow-clogged roadway as drivers grew increasingly desperate about their predicament and exasperated by what appeared to be a slow response by authorities.
Kaine, the 2016 Democratic nominee for vice president, was one of the many motorists caught up in the paralysis.
"I started my normal 2 hour drive to DC at 1 pm yesterday," he posted on Twitter on Tuesday morning.
The senator finally arrived in Washington 27 hours after leaving Richmond, Virginia, his communications director said.
Kaine told CNN he had nothing to eat or drink since setting out on Monday.
State and local emergency personnel worked through the morning and into the afternoon to clear downed trees, assist disabled vehicles and reroute drivers, Governor Ralph Northam said on Tuesday.
Northam and the Virginia Department of Transportation came in for fierce criticism for the state's response and failure to call in the National Guard.
The governor told WTOP radio the National Guard was available, but said it had yet to be mobilised.
The fast-moving storm, that brought heavy snow to parts of the southeast and mid-Atlantic states, forced the closure of federal offices and schools, grounded aircraft and knocked out electrical power for thousands of people.