Hurricane Belle made landfall over Jones Beach on Long Island, New York, as a Category 1 storm. 35 years ago this month. My family lived on Long Island at the time, about 30 miles east of Belle’s bullseye. It’s the first hurricane I remember.
I was 5-years old, and I remember waking up during the night to peer in at my parents, who were taking advantage of the power outage by having their own little candlelight dinner. I also remember trying to look out of my South-facing bedroom window to check out the action, and being able to see only blurry outlines of emergency vehicles driving slowly down the street.
The next morning, the front yard was littered with small branches, and one of the neighbor’s fruit trees had fallen in their yard. A playdate at our friend’s house was cancelled because their basement was flooded. My sister remembers my father tying our outside toys to the our chainlink fence in advance of the storm, and that we lost a kiddie pool that night.
According to one account of the storm from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, dated August 10, 1975 Belle skirted Birth Carolina’s Outer Banks, and then passed Virgina and began hitting southern New Jersey with “torrential rains.”A full moon enhanced its pull increasing tides at the Battery on the tip of Manhattan to 10.5 feet. New England was expected to see 15 foot tides, and 2.5 inches of rain on top of an already rain-soaked ground.
So, as much as I have preached “preparation and readiness” to my family and friends over the past few days, I think I need to calm myself down a bit. Based on what I see on TV, the storm’s track over our area of New England is not all that different from Belle’s 35 years ago. I made it through that storm just fine.