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NEWS | Nov. 2, 2012

Airlift ferries utility experts and equipment to darkened New York

By Jim Garamone American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON - Utility crews and equipment from California are at work today in storm-darkened areas of New York to restore power, the result of a Defense Department airlift.

DOD launched "a significant airlift event" to quickly get power restoration equipment to New York, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said Thursday.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency asked DOD to airlift equipment from Southern California to New York, he said. The Air Mobility Command responded to the request.

The National Guard remains busy in response to recovery efforts throughout New York and New Jersey, he noted. As of today, nearly 7,400 Army and Air National Guard Soldiers and Airmen in nine eastern states are assisting with storm relief.

"Aircraft and crews from 12 active duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve bases across the nation are rotating through March Air Reserve Base in Southern California, where they will pick up 10 civilian power experts, 637 short tons of supplies and equipment to support relief efforts on the East Coast," Little said.

The personnel and equipment are from the Southern California Edison Utility Company and will arrive at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, N.Y., on 12 C-17 Globemasters and five C-5 Galaxy aircraft later this afternoon, Little said.

The cargo includes 10 cherry picker trucks, four line trucks, a flat-bed digger, eight "trouble trucks" and a mobile command center, he said. There are also a number of support trucks, maintenance trucks and all the equipment needed to operate as soon as they roll off the planes, Little added.

Most of the crews manning the trucks arrived in New York via commercial air, he said.

The Navy is moving three ships -- the USS Wasp, the USS San Antonio and the USS Carter Hall -- toward the Northeast, Little said. There has been no request for the capabilities of the ships, but DOD considers this a prudent move, to ensure the ships will be available if needed, he said.

The military is also providing generators and pumping equipment to New York and New Jersey, Little said.

"The New Jersey National Guard was very busy (Wednesday) rescuing the people of Hoboken who are still stranded due to flooding," Little said.

"Throughout the state, the New Jersey National Guard has rescued more than 2,000 residents from flooded areas."

In addition, the New York National Guard responded to Bellevue Hospital, where more than 700 patients needed to be evacuated, he said.

"I can’t say enough about the selfless Soldiers and Airmen throughout the Northeast, and I’d like to commend FEMA and other government agencies for their response to this devastating natural disaster," Little said.