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Military launches to relieve Sandy victims

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.

The department moved 630 tons of equipment, including 69 Southern California Edison bucket trucks and pickup trucks, to the area, it 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. (UPI)

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