NEWBURGH, N.Y., Nov. 3 (UPI) -- Two dozen military aircraft delivered utility bucket trucks, equipment and people from Phoenix to help storm-ravaged New York and New Jersey, officials said.
The Friday and Saturday deliveries were part of a massive accelerated U.S. military response to help relieve millions suffering in the devastating destruction Hurricane Sandy left behind, the Defense Department said.
Thursday, the department moved 630 tons of equipment, including 69 Southern California Edison bucket trucks and pickup trucks, to the area, the department said.
The equipment arrived at an Air National Guard Base attached to Stewart International Airport, in Newburgh, N.Y., 55 miles north of New York City. The trucks rolled off the planes and went to hard-hit areas.
The Obama administration Friday also authorized the Defense Department's logistics agency to hire hundreds of trucks to deliver 24 million gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel to New Jersey to ease a drastic fuel shortage in areas hardest hit by Superstorm Sandy.
It also lifted restrictions on foreign oil-tanker deliveries from the Gulf of Mexico to Northeastern ports to help frustrated and frightened motorists in the area get gasoline.
The trucked fuel is to be distributed throughout the region from New Jersey staging areas in coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to resupply depleted gasoline stations, officials said.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's lifting until Nov. 13 of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, which normally requires all goods transported by water between U.S. ports to be carried in U.S.-flag ships, should soon bring additional refined gasoline and diesel to the New York area, the officials said.
It was unclear how many foreign tankers would bring oil to the Northeast. National Public Radio said those deliveries wouldn't significantly increase supplies until floodwaters recede and power is restored.
About 1.3 million New York state and 1.4 million New Jersey customers remained without power early Saturday, power companies said five days after Sandy slammed into the East Coast.
The storm's U.S. death toll rose to 110 across nine states, most of them centered in the New York City area.
The Pentagon is also tapping diesel fuel from the Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve for the first time, the U.S. Energy Department said.
The department gave the Pentagon permission to draw 2 million gallons of ultralow-sulfur diesel from Groton, Conn., to keep emergency-response equipment running, including power generators, water pumps, federal buildings, trucks and other vehicles, the department said in a statement.
The 42 million-gallon diesel reserve, created by President Bill Clinton in 2000 along with 84 million gallons of home heating oil, is part of the Energy Department's Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
In addition, 7,400 National Guard members in nine Eastern states are performing communications, engineering, evacuation, medical, security, search and rescue, sheltering, debris removal and transportation missions, Pentagon spokesman George Little said Friday.
The USS Wasp, USS San Antonio and USS Carter Hall are anchored off the New York coast with sailors and Marines standing by to support FEMA, he said. They're also prepared to help with search and rescue, material delivery and others missions if asked.
The Defense Logistics Agency expects to provide 1 million meals to New York City by Monday, Little said. It already has delivered 1.5 million meals to FEMA facilities in West Virginia, which has been hit by heavy snow, flooding, power outages and impassable roads as a result of Sandy.