DOZENS of Wrexham families have been left stranded abroad as the volcanic ash crisis continues.
Howard Davies, a partner at travel agency Delmar World in Gresford, says it is difficult to estimate, but it is likely that several hundred inbound and outbound travellers from the Wrexham area will be affected as the ash cloud continues to ground flights across Europe.
One town centre agent said in more than five decades in the travel industry, he had never experienced such a situation.
Among those left stranded is businesswoman Louisa Preece, 31, from Llangollen, who is marooned in Milan, Italy.
Mrs Preece, 31, who works as a product manager for an international company manufacturing industrial ink, was due to fly home last Thursday morning after spending a week on business in the Italian city.
But when the flight ban came in she found herself unable to get home. And so far all her attempts to find another way back to Wales have been unsuccessful.
And it is not just her husband Simon who is anxiously awaiting her return.
Louisa performs with Llangollen Operatic Society and is due to take a key role in its latest production, The Likes Of Us, which opens for a five-night run in the town hall this evening.
Speaking from Milan yesterday, Louisa, who is from Llangollen, said: “I came out here on business on Monday of last week and was due to fly home on Lufthansa last Thursday.
“That morning my husband gave me a call to say there was a dust cloud coming over the UK from Iceland which looked like it would stop all flights.
“I then phoned my company’s travel agent who told me they couldn’t get me a flight home and to try again the next day.
“On Friday I got up at 4am ready to go to the airport, then I saw on the news that things were getting worse and that there would be no flights in Europe for at least a few days.
“A colleague and I then began to work out how we could get back home by some other form of transport but we weren’t able to get on a train because they were all booked up.
“We also heard the French trains were on strike but I’m not sure if that was true.”
She added: “We also checked out the possibility of driving home but they wouldn’t let us take a hire car out of Italy. Things looked a little better when we heard that some flights were being allowed out of Italy yesterday but our hopes were dashed when we found out they are only flying east, not west towards the UK.
“It’s just not clear how long all this will last but I am still trying to think of ways to get home.
“Things have been a little tricky with the hotels in Milan because there has been a major furniture exhibition on here all week and rooms are in short supply.
“I have been in three different hotels in eight nights.
“I’m just keeping myself busy by working on my laptop, so things haven’t been too bad for me.
“I have heard horror stories about people being stuck at airports and running out of money but, luckily, my company is paying for me.
“Apart from seeing my husband, I am pretty desperate to get home so I can appear in the operatic society show.
“It’s about the early days of Dr Barnardo and I’m playing a Victorian lady of easy virtue.
“I’m sure nobody else could take that part.”