WASHINGTON The Pentagon is airlifting power restoration experts and trucks cross-country, from California to New York, to bolster efforts to assist the millions of people still living in darkness days after superstorm Sandy hit the U.S. Northeast.
The C-5 and C-17 military transport planes - designed to carry heavy military equipment, like tanks - began flying from March Air Reserve Base in southern California early on Thursday and were due to start arriving in the afternoon at an Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, New York.
Pentagon spokesman George Little said 62 vehicles owned by Southern California Edison, one of southern California's biggest power companies, will "move out to support efforts to restore power to the stricken region."
More than 100 employees of Southern California Edison were flying out on the military flights, as well on a separate charter flight, another U.S. official said.
More than 4.6 million homes and businesses along the U.S. East Coast were without power on Thursday, down from a high of nearly 8.5 million, which surpassed the record 8.4 million customers who lost electricity from last year's Hurricane Irene.
Sandy made landfall in New Jersey with a full moon around high tide, creating a record storm surge that flooded lower Manhattan. By Thursday, the storm had dissipated over the North American mainland.
(Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Vicki Allen)