Tom had grown up in Breezy Point. His parents first bought a house there in 1969. It was a quaint community -- close enough to the city but far enough away to relax.
Tom and Deidre bought their home on Ocean Avenue in 1989; it was a perfect spot to raise their budding family. Their first daughter had just been born.
As Sandy's outer bands lashed New York, the Duffys fixated on the storm reports on TV. Both Tom and Deidre were structural engineers, but they didn't need an advanced degree to know that their home would sustain water and wind damage.
Swept into the sea
In the early hours Monday, a high seas rescue was in motion.
A Coast Guard C-130 aircraft, then a helicopter, braved the elements to locate the Bounty, about 90 miles off the North Carolina coast. Radio contact had been lost.
The captain had ordered that the ship be abandoned. Its crew members, wearing orange survival suits with strobe lights -- intended to keep them afloat, warm and visible at sea -- attempted to board two lifeboats.
A giant wave swept three into the sea, including the captain. One crew member was able to climb back into the lifeboat. The Coast Guard rescued 14. They recovered the body of another: Claudene Christian.
The captain has not been found.
Christian was the first U.S. fatality of the storm.
She died living out her dream.
Unable to sleep
Monday night, Sandy hammered the East Coast, especially Staten Island and the Jersey Shore. Giant waves swamped homes, apartments and buildings. Power lines fell. Subway tunnels in New York filled with rushing water. All bridges to the city were closed.
At 7:45 p.m., 10 feet of water inundated the NYU medical center in Manhattan.
Luz Martinez was watching the news when Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the hospital was being evacuated.
Her heart pounded.
Then, the power went out in the apartment.
Martinez got on her cellphone. She spoke with a nurse who said Emma would be moved a few blocks away to Mount Sinai Medical Center. She was on the priority list, to be transported first. Nurses would use hand pumps as respirators as they carried Emma and other babies in critical condition down several flights of stairs in the dark.
An hour and a half would pass before Martinez heard back. Emma was safe and stable at Mount Sinai.
Martinez paced her apartment, unable to sleep.
Deidre Duffy woke her husband at 3 a.m. Tuesday, October 30. He was prepared for damage from wind and rain. Not for what his wife was about to tell him.
"Breezy Point," she said, "is on fire."
As floodwaters smashed into the neighborhood, transformers blew and power lines snapped. Fanned by high winds, the flames engulfed the wooden homes like kindling.
At first, authorities reported 40 homes were gone. But with daybreak came the news that more than 100 had burned to the ground.
It would mark one of the worst residential fires in New York City history.
On Tuesday, the Duffys made their way to 164 Ocean Avenue. Their home was in ashes.
Tom Duffy isn't sure yet if the family will rebuild, but he is certain of one thing about Breezy Point: "It will never be the same."
Reuniting with Emma
Luz Martinez's sister is a New York cop. Tuesday morning, she knew which streets and bridges were open. She sent her boyfriend to fetch Luz on Roosevelt Island and take her to Emma's side.
The ride, usually 40 minutes, took 20. No one was on the road.
At Mount Sinai, Martinez found Emma in the neonatal unit. "She gave me so much peace of mind, just looking at her, sleeping like nothing had happened. She wasn't aware of what was going on."
The hospital's CEO, Kenneth Davis, was making the rounds. He was the one who had agreed to take Emma and other NYU patients into his hospital. He walked into the room, arms outstretched.
"You need a hug," he said.
Martinez began crying and thanked him.
Emma was less than a month old and yet she'd already been through so much. Her mother has given her a nickname.