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Washington (AFP) Nov 1, 2012
US military cargo planes flew dozens of heavy trucks and a team of specialists to New York on Thursday to help with efforts to restore power in the wake of superstorm Sandy, officials said.
The deployment of C-5 and C-17 cargo aircraft was part of a wider effort by the military to aid local governments responding to the devastating storm that left at least 85 dead in 15 states and caused massive power outages along the country's East Coast.
The National Guard said its troops rescued some 2,000 stranded residents from flooded homes in New Jersey in the past two days, employing trucks, boats and helicopters to help residents trapped in buildings inundated with storm surge waters.
The US Transportation Command, which usually handles the supplying and feeding of troops on the battlefield, sent 55 trucks to New York on Thursday loaded with 1.5 million meals and had 1.3 million additional meals ready to be delivered, officials said.
To help repair damaged power stations, five C-5 and 12 C-17 cargo planes deployed by the Pentagon picked up more than 60 vehicles and a 10-member civilian team in California before heading across the country to Stewart Air National Guard base in Newburgh, 60 miles (97 kilometers) north of storm-battered New York City.
The array of repair trucks being transported, including cherry-pickers and a mobile command center, were provided by a utility company, Southern California Edison, to help revive electricity service in areas hit by Sandy, spokesman George Little told reporters.
Nearly 10,000 National Guard forces have fanned out along the eastern seaboard, delivering generators and water pumps to flooded coastal communities, as well as rescuing motorists in the mountains of West Virginia, which saw heavy snowfall.
The US Navy meanwhile ordered three amphibious ships Wednesday to head towards the New Jersey coast in case local authorities needed assistance with rescue efforts, officials said.
The move "will allow our forces to be best postured to minimize the amount of time it will take these forces to get on station if tasked," said US Navy spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby.
The three ships were the helicopter carrier USS Wasp, the USS San Antonio -- which has MH-60 choppers on board -- and the USS Carter Hall.
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