A Little Hurricane Perspective: Hurricane Belle, 1976

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.

Hurricane Belle 1976 Track

The track of Hurricane Belle in 1976

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.



About maryct70

Lucky mom of two little ones who keep both me and my husband on our toes. I work for an insurance company, based in Boston MA, and spend many hours on the train, as a consummate commuter. I am a die-hard Red Sox and New England Patriots fan. As a Boston College Alum, I also cheer for my BC Eagles, whether it be football, basketball or hockey.
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5 Responses to A Little Hurricane Perspective: Hurricane Belle, 1976

  1. Maura Donnelly says:

    Mary, I remember it like it was yesterday! I was just telling Abby all about it last night, including the parts about Dad tying our toys to the fence and finding pieces of our pool in the trees the next day. I also remember Dad gave us a flashlight to have in our room and you kept shining it on the ceiling right over Theresa’s bed. She kept yelling at you to stop because she was afraid of it.
    Maybe it was Mom and Dad’s attitude of calm and/or my own 4 year old naivite but I’ve always considered Hurricane Belle to be a fond childhood memory.

  2. Mary, I was on Long Island for the 1976 Hurricane Belle too! Honestly, I don’t remember a thing, and probably was blithely going about my business while my parents did the worrying. I have to ask, whereabouts did you live? We were in Hauppauge/Smithtown.

    • maryct70 says:

      We were not far from there! Bohemia, actually. Lived there until I was 8 years old, and then moved to Vermont.
      Hope you weathered Irene well!

  3. We did, thanks. Lost power for 15 hours – much less than a lot of people. Otherwise nothing remarkable. How about yourself?

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