As Hurricane Florence hits the Carolinas, Superstorm Sandy survivor helps pay it forward

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A New Jersey woman who survived Superstorm Sandy and received help from strangers is calling on people to step up and return the favor to the people in the Carolinas who are in the crosshairs of Hurricane Florence. 

Joan DeLucia has formed a group of New Jerseyians and set up a Facebook page to help transport equipment to residents in North and South Carolina in the recovery process after Hurricane Florence blows through.

“They are now in the line of the hurricane so we are taking donations, packing trucks and bringing them stuff to help them out," DeLucia told ABC News over a phone interview. "Not as much as they helped us but as much as we can right now.”

Superstorm Sandy was one of the deadliest and most destructive storms of the 2012 hurricane season. It caused 117 deaths and led to approximately 20,000 people having to take shelter, according to the CDC.

DeLucia said she hasn't forgotten the goodwill displayed by the people of the Carolinas during those difficult times.

“The North Carolina Baptist men ... came in for two, three probably three and a half years and did mold remediation for free,” DeLucia said. “They also did repairs to the home and helped rebuild.”

“They stayed here seven days a week, 24 hours a day. They brought a trailer down, made themselves the little spot. And people would go to them and ask them for help. They would do everything and anything they can do.”

Hurricane Florence, a Category 1 storm, barrelled into North Carolina early Friday with wind gusts hovering around 100 mph. Officials feared it will drop "biblical" floodwaters.

DeLucia knows what those residents are in for.

“They're going to wake up in a few days their worlds are going to be changed. Everything's going to be different,” DeLucia said. “And we just want to provide a little bit of help."

That's why DeLucia is urging people who benefitted from the kindness that helped her through the aftermath of Sandy to give back.

She is asking for materials like lights, batteries, generators and work gloves, among other things, which she plans to transport down south.

Billy Layton is one of the people who helped after Sandy and now needs the goodwill to come back. He stayed in New Jersey for three years after the storm and helped rebuild homes.

“I was a coordinator for a rebuilt site. We came up and rebuilt homes that had flood damage after the storm,” Layton, 61, said.

On Friday morning, Layton and his family were awaiting Hurricane Florence.

“We're in Lumberton of North Carolina," he said. "We’re just waiting [on the storm].”

DeLucia said to her friends in the Carolinas that even though they're going through difficult times now, the most important thing is to survive the storm and rebuild afterward.

“They're going to get through this," she said. "We can replace everything but human life.”

Layton, meanwhile, said he is pleased to see the people of New Jersey showing the same kindness he displayed years ago.

“It’s very good to see people paying it forward,” Layton said.

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