VVolunteer Harold Minkin of Cloverdale drove to the East Coast in a Red Cross emergency response vehicle and now is on Staten Island, N.Y., helping feed thousands of suffering residents and volunteers who help them.

"It's like a taco truck, it holds hot food. The window opens up . . . we hand out the food," said Minkin, a retired senior executive with Oracle. "Two runs a day . . . We clean up, start all over again."

Another American Red Cross volunteer, Fran Condon of Santa Rosa, is in downtown Manhattan. She's sending volunteers to emergency shelters throughout Manhattan and the Bronx and connecting residents with services.

"It's unbelievable the amount of need. It just blows us all away," said Condon, a retired AT&T employee.

Joe Dwyer of Santa Rosa returned home Saturday after two weeks helping in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy.

Dwyer, a supervising ambulance paramedic with AMR and 26-year employee, is a member of AMR's national disaster response team under the umbrella of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

With medical needs everywhere, Dwyer coordinated with other emergency officials to keep ambulances headed where they were needed most.

"The biggest thing that stands in my mind is some of the devastation and the resolve of the people in these devastated areas," he said. "How they help themselves and give a helping hand."

The enormity of the devastation also hammered home lessons for back home, Dwyer said.

"It's an eye-opener. We really need to be prepared and more disaster-minded," he said. "Make sure you're prepared for the first 72 hours to be without food, power and water."

The local Red Cross has sent to the Northeast 31 volunteers from six counties, from Napa to Del Norte, to help after the storm brought flooding rain and heavy snowfall coupled with hurricane-force winds.

The storm that shut much of the East Coast for days is blamed for 113 deaths in the United States, including 43 in New York City.

Condon and Minkin began volunteering for the Red Cross with the 2005 devastation left by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

"I've been to 23 disasters. This one is like nothing I've ever seen before," said Condon, whose first disaster was the Russian River flood of 2006.

She's used to rural disasters. Manhattan has people in high-rises and massive apartment complexes and aid sometimes means sending people to knock on doors of buildings 20 stories tall.

"We're trying to find the right agency within New York who can go out and help them," said Condon, who arrived Nov. 1. "It's really a challenge."

Minkin is coordinating the food services program in his area and is supervising servicing of more than two dozen emergency response vehicles.

He didn't expect to be home for Thanksgiving, saying he'd share the holiday with thousands of New Yorkers and volunteers.

"Whatever it takes," he said.

You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 521-5412 or randi.rossmann@pressdemocrat.com.