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Vancouver's Randy Anderson and Wendy Parmeter are coming home, knowing they "got it right" spending the past week helping with American Red Cross relief efforts in the Northeast in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
Anderson and Parmeter joined five other Vancouver volunteers and hundreds of volunteers from the around the country to deliver food in storm-struck areas, at times distributing more than 1,000 meals a day from the emergency response vehicle they spent six days driving across the country from Vancouver.
The vehicle was one of dozens sent to the area by the American Red Cross to help with the relief efforts. Anderson and Parmeter took their truck to areas such as Deer Park, east of New York City on Long Island, where they combed the streets to deliver sandwiches, fruit, water and hot meals. Many homes there had no power, and some lost power again when a nor'easter blew through the region shortly after Superstorm Sandy.
They slept on cots in a school gym at a local college with 300 other volunteers. Showers were hard to come by, and so was sleep.
"Our deployment has certainly been an interesting adventure," Anderson wrote in an email message Wednesday morning.
He said that many people there went out of their way to thank them.
"In one area where we delivered food, a man came up to us and said he did not need anything, but just wanted to say thanks. He had been a first responder after the 9/11 attack. He said the Red Cross had been one of the first organizations to respond and provided him with some much-needed food and support. He just wanted us to know how important that had been for him at that time. Sometimes we do get it right. All-in-all a humbling experience."
Comments like that helped remove some of the sting he felt when he read an article in New York that criticized Red Cross efforts there.
"We don't always get it right," he added, "but I don't think we do a very good job reminding people that most of us are just volunteers who try the best we can."