U.S. Ash Quest: Help 40,000 Americans cross the pond

April 19, 2010

Stranded in England…

(We could think of worse places to be stuck than the land of fish-and-chips and Shakespeare).

VOLCANO/That’s what happened to 40,000 Americans when their travel was disrupted due to the volcanic ash wafting over Europe from Iceland. But have no fear, the U.S. government is here.

(Not that it’s in any way a relevant comparison, but the number of Americans stranded in Britain is smaller than the Twitter followers of  White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs  who has 55,643 following @PressSec).

“We are working closely with the State Department to examine all the opportunities that we have to speed this process along,” Gibbs said, noting that some people may have gone on vacation, are running out of medicine, and don’t have a place to stay.

The travel disruptions have also affected the U.S. government at the highest levels. President Barack Obama canceled his trip to Poland this weekend (some newspapers noted that he ended up on the golf course instead), and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton canceled a trip to Finland.

There was a mini news flareup when MSNBC tweeted@BreakingNews that a large plume indicated a second volcano on Iceland may have erupted too (YIKES!), only to tweet later: “Iceland weather service looking at wrong camera; Hekla is not erupting” (PHEW!) AUSTRALIA/

Gibbs provided no details about what kind of help the U.S. government had in mind for the stranded and he said while the United States had “some big ships,” he had not heard of any discussion of using them to ferry Americans.

We’re wondering is the Queen Mary 2 available?

Did the volcanic ash travel disruption have any impact on you?

Disasters inevitably give rise to some humor. @TonyFratto “Iceland: We kick ash!” and former colleague @Adampasick retweeted @D3MS77 “Put 30 billion euros in unmarked bills in a bag by the gate of the Icelandic embassy in London, and we’ll turn off the volcano.”

Photo credit: Reuters/Jon Gustafsson/Helicopter.is/handout (steam and ash rise out of erupting volcano on Iceland), Reuters/Daniel Munoz (Queen Mary 2 ocean liner), Reuters/British Geological Survey/NERC/handout (ash plume from Iceland volcano)

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