Cleanup Ships Idled As Storm Rattles Gulf Region

The crashing waves and gusting winds churned up by now Hurricane Alex put the Gulf oil spill largely in Mother Nature's hands Tuesday. Regardless of whether the storm makes things worse or even better, it has turned many people fighting the spill into spectators. Oil-skimming ships in the Gulf of Mexico steamed to safe refuge because of the rough seas, which likely will last for days. Officials scrambled to reposition boom to protect the coast, and had to remove barges that had been blocking oil from reaching sensitive wetlands. Those operations could soon get a boost, as the U.S. accepted offers of help from 12 countries and international organizations. Japan, for instance, was sending two skimmers and boom. Alex is projected to stay far from the spill zone and is not expected to affect recovery efforts at the site of the blown-out well off the Louisiana coast.