A number of Manitobans are trying to drive home on Tuesday, after having to spend a stormy Monday night inside an arena that was transformed into a makeshift hotel in Grand Forks, N.D.

Hotels in the U.S. city, located just across the international border with Manitoba, filled up fast on Monday during the snowstorm that shut down Interstate 29, the main highway linking the state to Manitoba, due to whiteout conditions.

That left 226 people scrambling to find other accommodations. Many Manitobans had decided to take advantage of the provincial long weekend holiday, Louis Riel Day, to travel to the U.S.

The American Red Cross decided to use the arena in Grand Forks, Alerus Centre, as an emergency shelter.

"I understand there wasn't a room anywhere for anyone to stay so these were the folks that probably came along later and couldn't find a room once they closed the interstate north of Grand Forks," said Alerus Centre spokeswoman Cheryl Swanson

"[The Red Cross] arrived with cots and some snacks and we opened the doors and made people as comfortable as possible. We had TVs available, showers, restrooms, tables and chairs."

Road, border delays

Swanson said the arena emptied out by 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, when the highway opened.

But many of the travellers faced another delay on the I-29 when a crash involving a semi-trailer near Drayton, N.D., shut down the highway again.

Steinbach Progressive Conservative MLA Kelvin Goertzen, who spent Tuesday on the highway trying to get home, said there was a semi in the ditch.

Goertzen said the semi "had been mostly crushed and it was still smoking, so there must have been some sort of fire involved with it as well.

"The truck went into the ditch pretty fast and pretty hard," he added.

Motorists were forced to wait for over an hour before the crash scene was cleared and the road reopened, he said.

The delay appeared to have moved to the U.S.-Canada border crossing at Emerson, Man., late in the afternoon.

As of 5 p.m. CT, the wait time for Canada-bound travellers crossing the border was two hours and 15 minutes, according to the Canada Border Services Agency's website. The wait time was reduced to 30 minutes at around 7 p.m.