Doing their part: Guilford athletic alumni help in New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy ravages state

“If you say there’s a blizzard coming (in New Jersey), they’re fine with that,” Assistant Athletic Trainer Danielle Duffy said. “But a hurricane in that area is a little different.”

On Oct. 29, Hurricane Sandy made landfall in New Jersey. The storm destroyed more than 72,000 homes and businesses and killed 34 people, making it the most devastating hurricane recorded in the area. In a cruel twist of fate, a little more than a week later on Nov. 7 a nor’easter followed in Sandy’s wake and dumped over a foot of snow across the state.

By that time, Duffy and her roommate, Kimberly Keys ‘12, had packed a rental car full of supplies and were on their way to New Jersey to help.

Duffy and Keys decided to support the relief effort after seeing the images of devastation reported on national news.

“I knew I could stay in North Carolina and help,” Keys said in an email interview. “But to see Hurricane Sandy first-hand would mean that I would realize all my selfish ways and petty problems meant nothing compared to those who were affected.”

Duffy, a native of Point Pleasant, N.J., also considered her family a major impetus in her decision.

“I was concerned with the emotions of my family and how they were,” Duffy said.

Both women were struck by the devastation they witnessed once they arrived.

“The things we did see — you can’t really prepare for it,” said Duffy. “(We saw) things like boats on top of boats in places there aren’t supposed to be boats.

“All that kind of stuff was hard to believe, but when you see where it was and whose boat it was, it becomes much more real.”

The duo helped out in places across the coast, performing a wide array of tasks.

“Kim and I started our relief efforts, per se, by shoveling some driveways,” said Duffy. “We hadn’t planned on that, but we decided we were there to do as much as we could.”

Before their trip, they had collected supplies, which they donated to a church in Brick, N.J.

“After that, we volunteered at an abandoned shopping center that was set up to let victims receive donated supplies like necessities for young children, hygiene products and food,” Keys said. “The last place we volunteered was in Point Pleasant. The houses had a lot of water damage so we knocked some drywall out and moved a lot of molded items out to be thrown away.”

The Guilford Athletics Department supported the pair’s efforts as best they could.

“An email was sent out by (Athletic Department Business Manager) Tracy Furjanic, asking for any additional Guilford gear to contribute to their relief effort,” said Assistant Director of Athletics Dave Walters. “The folks in the department responded well and in short order.”

Those close to Duffy and Keys are proud of their efforts.

“Knowing them, I knew they would make a big impact by donating their time,” said senior Sarah Cutright, one of Keys’s former softball teammates.

Both women consider the experience an eye-opener that put their relatively cozy lives into perspective.

Duffy plans on returning to help later this month.

“Packing your car and driving nine hours and seeing what I would see when I got there didn’t seem like that crazy of an idea, I guess,” said Duffy with a laugh.