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Portageville church opens warming center for stranded woman on I-55

Published: Jan. 7, 2022 at 4:40 PM CST
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PORTAGEVILLE, Mo. (KFVS) - Just near the Portageville exit on I-55, one Cape Girardeau woman ended up in the ditch, which left her with no way to get back home.

Some locals stepped up to help keep her safe for the night.

Church leaders at First Church of God in Portageville opened the doors to create a warming center Thursday for stranded drivers on the interstate.

Susan Maxwell stayed here Thursday night after a scary experience.

“You couldn’t see the road, and I was going 30 or 40 miles an hour and putting my breaks on and I guess a semi wasn’t using their head lights so all of a sudden this one hit the headlights, so I slowed more down, and I hit black ice and just went down into water,” Susan Maxwell said.

Maxwell said she stayed there for about 15 minutes before help came.

“I had no heat in my car,” she said.

“A guy that got hit by a semi, pickup truck, let me sit in his car to warm up.”

After a tow truck towed her car, the Portageville Police Department took her to the church because she couldn’t find a hotel room.

Senior Pastor David Dittman said he knew early on, people would need a place to stay because traffic lasted several hours.

“Our staff here on site went ahead and got in touch with Corey who is in charge of our emergency management, made sure that we got the warming center up and going,” he said.

“Our city provides us with the cots and the stuff that we need, and we provide the building and whatever else we need to get done for folks to come in.”

“I’m thankful. I don’t know what I would have done without them,” she said.

Now, as she waits for her car to be fixed, Dittman and other church leaders are helping her out again Friday night.

“This isn’t the most comfortable spot, but she made it through the night and so we’re going to get her into a hotel room,” Dittman said.

“Hopefully my car will be able to drive there and if it is, drive home and thankfully make it home safe,” she said.

“If there’s one person that’s in need we just want to go ahead and help that one person in need,” he said.

Dittman said he’s seen people get stranded off the interstate multiple times and likes to help those in need.

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