The Pentagon deployed military equipment and personnel, including about 300 Marines and sailors and 17 planeloads of power equipment, in an expanding effort to help New Jersey and nearby states recover from superstorm Sandy.
Military transport planes with more than 600 tons of power- restoration equipment, vehicles and crew from Southern California were being sent to the northeast, Pentagon spokesman George Little said yesterday. Marines and sailors from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina also were being deployed to the region, the Marine Corps said in an e-mailed statement.
Almost 4.5 million customers remained without power as of 2 p.m. New York time yesterday in blackouts that extended from South Carolina to Maine and as far west as Michigan, according to the U.S. Energy Department. More than 1.7 million homes and businesses in New Jersey, or 43 percent of customers, still had no power. The storm made landfall near Atlantic City on Oct. 29.
The power-restoration assistance includes 62 trucks and 10 civilian experts from Edison International (EIX)’s Southern California Edison at the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Little told reporters.
The aid was on board five C-5 and 12 C-17 transport planes that began arriving yesterday at the Stewart Air National Guard base in Newburgh, New York.
Among supplies were 10 double-bucket trucks, a flatbed digger, eight so-called trouble trucks, a mobile command center and several pickup trucks, Little said. Separately, the military has sent power generators and water pumps to the affected area, he said.
The Navy has dispatched three large-deck amphibious ships to waters off New York and New Jersey. The USS Wasp, USS San Antonio and USS Carter Hall were sent “northward for potential use in the event of a request by FEMA,” Little said. “It’s a precautionary measure that we believe is prudent.”
The Navy hasn’t yet received any assignment from FEMA for the ships, according to Little.
The Wasp arrived off New York City yesterday and the other two ships were due today. MH-53 heavy-lift helicopters will fly onto the Wasp and join MH-60 choppers already on-board, Lieutenant Colonel Tom Crosson, a Pentagon spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement
The Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, will be deployed onboard the Wasp and will be capable of “providing generators, fuel, clean water, and a substantial helicopter lift capacity to aid in disaster relief efforts,” the Marine Corps said in a statement.
The San Antonio will come equipped with MH-60 helicopters and rescue swimmers awaiting deployment orders, Crosson said.
The military also is providing 120 high-flow water pumps and more than 400 personnel to the region to drain floodwaters, Crosson said, a mission the Pentagon calls “un-watering.”
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also ordered three ships from the National Defense Reserve Fleet to provide temporary housing for emergency personnel, according to Crosson.
In addition, National Guard spokesman Rick Breitenfeldt said in an e-mail that more than 220 Air Guard and Army Guard helicopters and 50 fixed-wing aircraft are available for search and rescue, reconnaissance and cargo missions.
A combined Task Force with 41 soldiers from four states that arrived Oct. 31 and is located at Joint Base McGuire-Dix- Lakehurst in New Jersey is equipped with two CH-47 Chinook helicopters and six UH-60 Black Hawks, he said.
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