Air Force crews loaded Los Angeles Department of Water & Power trucks on cargo jets Sunday at Riverside County's March Air Reserve Base to fly them to New York, where hundreds of thousands of people were still without power in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
A total of nine C-17s and C-5s were scheduled to depart from March throughout the day Nov. 4 with more than 45 trucks from L.A. and Anaheim utilities, Lt. Col. Don Traud of the 452nd Air Mobility Wing said at March.
An estimated 80 utility crew members were expected to fly east with their trucks. The destination for the Air Force jets, utility trucks and crews was JFK International Airport in New York City, Traud said.
Brian Williams, 29, of Valencia, a lineman for L.A. Department of Water & Power, helped load trucks on a C-17 before noon Sunday. He said he volunteered to go east. He has family in Boston.
"We're going to Long Island, New York, to help restore power," Williams said. "Two weeks they said. I volunteered, because I want to go and help the good people back there and do the best thing that I can do. I hear a lot of people need help, and that's we do. That's what I'm here for. It was a big storm. Hang in there. We're coming to help."
As of 1 p.m. Sunday, more than 350,000 homes and businesses were still without electricity on Long Island and more than 150,000 in New York City remained without power, NewsDay and the New York Times reported.
The U.S. death toll from Sandy as of Sunday was estimated at more than 110, with more than 40 storm-related deaths in New York City alone.
"The word I've gotten is this is a top priority for the president," Traud said. "There are still a lot of people without homes, without power, so it'll stay a priority."
It was the second eastbound airlift of utility trucks equipped for storm recovery from March in the past four days.
On Thursday, 70 to 80 Southern California Edison trucks and about 120 crew members jetted to Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, N.Y., about 60 miles north of Manhattan, Air Force and Edison officials at March said.