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Hurricane Belle

By NOAA

Hurricane Belle left 12 dead and caused $24M in damages in the Eastern United States between August 8-10, 1976. Most of the damage was caused to coastal communities in North Carolina, New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont, and New York.

Though it was only a Category 1 hurricane, it was the most damaging to hit Long Island since Hurricane Carol in 1954. More than 150,000 were left without power in New Jersey.

Background

Belle formed as a depression early on August 6th just east of the northern Bahama islands. While a depression, Belle's position remained about 250 miles northeast of Nassau in the Bahamas as the system did a small cyclonic loop. Belle was upgraded to a tropical storm on the evening of 6th and shortly thereafter starting moving northwest.

Belle reached hurricane strength during the late afternoon of the 7th. Movement continued to be northwest and toward the Carolinas before turning to the north on the 8th and passing within 100 miles of the Outer Banks.

Belle continued to intensify through the 9th when the central minimum pressure dropped to 957 mb and maximum sustained winds reached 120 mph. Weakening commenced later on the 9th and continued through the 10th when the storm made landfall on the south coast of Long Island as a category one storm.

In the Carolinas the highest sustained wind was 37 mph at Cape Hatteras. The highest estimated gust was 75 mph as both Frisco and Hatteras Place on the Outer Banks. 3.70 inches of rain fell at Cape Hatteras.

Source: NOAA.

 

Share Your Memories!

What do you remember about Hurricane Belle? Have you any compelling stories to share? Share your stories with the world! (We print the best stories right here!)

Your Memories Shared!

"We live along the Jersey Shore. In 1976 I was 8 years old. I remember all the neighborhood animals going crazy right before Belle hit. I stood by the window and watched as the wind blew the rain down the street horizontally. I never saw anything like it! The next morning we found our neighbor's patio furniture under my mom's car in the driveway."

--MalibuBarb68

"I only remember being scared as my family and neighbors slept in the gym at the local Junior High. Just after the eye passed over the windows blew in and we all moved to the axillary gym. Even as a child of 9 I wondered why we were not in the axillary gym to begin with since it had no windows."

--bronwyn

"I was from Wisconsin and this was my first big trip - anywhere! My first time on a plane, my first time seeing the ocean, and yes, my first (and only) hurricane. I was 16 at the time and was excited and scarred at the same time. I remember the day of (as it was going to hit at night) shopping in one of the small towns and seeing the store owners taping up their windows of their stores. We spent the night in the basement but I remember at one point, comming up from the basement and looking outside and seeing the trees bent in halve. Other than that, some flooding of the roads and the shape of the sand on the shore was changed. I also remember 'Uncle Sydney' who was 70 at the time going out and swimming in the huge waves afterwards. It made a big impression on a little girl from the midwest."

--Midwest Gal

"I was 9 when we evacuated the Connecticut coastline. We were a family of 4 plus 2 large German Shepherds in one tiny inland motel room. The outage of power made it hard to maneuver through the room without stepping on the dogs and waking everyone else up. Being 9 and in complete darkness did not sit well with my imagination. Pelting rain and wicked winds whipped the sounds outside. I was able to get little sleep making the outside even more surreal. Upon returning to our house the next day, we passed several large oaks split in half or downed completely. Luckily, our house made it through unscathed with the exception of a rogue shingle or cedar shake on the lawn. The waves the next day were amazing for the Long Island Sound! At least 4-5 feet in height which is huge for that body of water. All the kids around the neighborhood surfed the swells until the sun went down."

--Veo

"I remember this Hurricane well. I was 10 years old at the time. My parents kept our boat in Ocean City, MD. My father was worried about the boat, so we spent the hurricane on the boat! My father took of the outriggers and tied up all the gear. My parents kept adjusting the lines as the storm surge came in and out. Many of the poeple staying with their boats hung out at the Marina Restaraunt during the storm. As we were walking along the pier I recall how the rain stung as it hit. Then a strong wind gust blew me off the pier! My parents reach out and caught me. Later we drove into downtown Ocean City to visit friends in their Condo. I remember watching the waves crash over the boardwalk, and the street next to it."

--David Irwin

"I remember this storm for this reason. My family had lived in Florida for nine years prior to moving to Greenwhich, Conn., in June 1976. During those nine years we never went though a hurricane. It took only three months in Connecticut to experience one."

--Lefty

"I was 9 and vacationing with my family in Cape May, NJ when this storm hit. Our vacation home was a half block from the beach, and local officals announced evacuations, since it wasn't known how close the storm would come to the Jersey shore. I clearly remember going down to the beach at the height of the storm, with large plastic trash bags as ponchos. My uncle and a family friend had to each hold onto one of my hands to keep me from flying away like a kite. We were amazed to see the surfers on the beach taking advantage of the largest waves we'd ever seen.

It was a couple of days later, when my aunt and cousin were at the local bingo hall, that they overheard people talking about "those crazy people out in the storm on Ocean St with a kid in a garbage bag.""

--Chris McQ

"I personally think that this storm was one of the worst hurricanes ever to hit New Jersey. Ship Bottom reported wind gusts to 90mph. I remember Storm Field on the weather talking about hurricane warnings for up to 25 miles inland all along the coast of NJ just as the power went out. I lived Mulberry Lane in Freehold, NJ at the time. I remember the power going out around 800 - 830pm, the wind was pounding the sliding glass door at the back of the house. The wind was very bad, I estimated sustained winds of 55-60mph with gusts in the range of 75mph - 80mph or higher at times. I remember hearing the wind whistling through the chimney flu in the Family room. I recall hearing an apple tree falling over and hitting the back of the house and the gutter and downspout getting ripped from the back corner of the house. I remember a big flash of blue light out the back window of the house when a transformer came crashing down a few blocks away. I went upstairs to look out the back bedroom windows, the wind sounded a lot worse upstairs, you could here the roof rafters squeeking and straining under the load of the wind, the upstairs was not a place I felt safe in during the storm. Then the rain came around to the front of the house, I remember the wind and rain torrents lashing at the big front picture window. The wind and rain was trying to push the front door in, the rain came seeping in under the front door into the foyer, causing a small puddle of water to form in the middle of the foyer. The basement got flooded and my family spend a couple hours bailing out the basement. When the storm was over, tree branches from the weeping willow tree on the north side of the house littered the entire yard and house roof. Three apple trees in the back yard were all blown over with the roots sticking up out of the ground. The ground was soaked from the 6+ inches of rain that fell. The storm started around 630pm with squalls from the feeder bands, the storm peaked out at around 830 - 900pm (The worst winds) and continued until around 1030pm. The wind subsided but kept up through until around 1am. It was quite a storm. One I'll always remember."

--Anonymous

"My sister and I stayed at our grandma's house in Braintree, MA during the hurricane. I was 11 years old. I remember how intense the winds were and how the sky had this orange hue to it at night. The morning after the worst part of the storm, we found a New York license plate on the sidewalk."

--Kat

"I was about 10 years old living in Ellington, Connecticut. I remember the rain and the fierce winds. I especially remember after the Belle came through all the downed tree branches in our yard and my father being relieved it was over and that a tree near our house did not fall on us."

--Anonymous

"I was only 7 years old and my family was on vacation at Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. I remember the police going door to door to evaucate everyone. My grandfather did not want to leave, but he eventually did. We all went back to our home in Dracut, MA for the evening. The storm had lost most of its punch before landfall and we were able to go back to Hampton the next day."

--Tim

"I was 7 years old and we were ordered to leave our oceanfront home after the evacuation of the Outer Banks had been completed...we decided to stay. We were evacuated to an ocenfront hotel, where we waited out the storm in the basement with others who refused to leave the island. There were fighting dogs and lots of scraming kids all jammed together in a hotel basement that was leaking. The next day, was beautiful and clear, so much had washed up on the beach. The only damage from Belle was a blown out car window and torn screens."

--netsirk

"I remember this one well. I was vacationing in Ocean City MD on the eastern shore. I was 12 years old at the time. Not able to leave the area due to high winds, my parents and I sat at the dinning room table in the condo we rented watching the spectical through the kitchen window. We saw bill boards flying through the air into the bay and shingles come from nearby buildings. Than all of a sudden it happened.........scratch...screech...bang....We witnessed the entire roof, duct work hanging from it slam into the bay. The place was totled and so was our vacation. This was my first hurricane. I remember people saying we had gotten the "tail end"of this one. Suppose it could have been worse. I am currently experiancing tropical storm "Isadore" in Ft Walton Beach Florida where I live. I love living on the coast, regardless what mother nature whips up."

--D VanDeventer

"I was 9 years old living in Coram, NY. The eye passed about 10 or 15 miles from there. I remember a few trees uprooted and some of the trees in our backyard were bent so badly that they stayed that way and continued to grow awkward (kinda like me). I also saw a jeep turn on it's side. Power was out for about a day. I remember my Father almost getting into a fight with a store owner because he was selling batteries (c and d cells) for about 5 dollars each. Price gouging. My Father asked the owner if he had ever thought wondered what it would be like to speak without any teeth."

--Anonymous

"I was born in Norwalk, Ct on Aug 9, 1976. I am told by my father that on the way home from the hospital several detours were forced because of downed trees and power lines. Luckily I have encountered many calmer days than my first one."

--Fortunate Son

"My sister in law was 2 weeks past her due date on 8/10/76 when she went into labor. By the time she got to the hospital the place was full of people in "false labor". She was not one of them and delivered a healthy, beautiful baby girl names Dana. Dana got married on September 14, 2002 and is honeymooning in Antigua. She is on her honeymoon in Antigua and, fortunately, hurricane Isidore went in a different direction. I always say that hurricane Belle is the reason that Dana is so spirited!"

--Econdron903

"I was a child when Belle hit the southern coast of Long Island. My memories are pretty clear, I can still see my whole family together in candle light, away from the windows in the lower part of the house. I remember the sound of the winds as they roared over the roof and until this day, I thought I'd lived through a monster.

I came to this website to settle an arguement, see, I thought that Belle must have been at least a 2 maybe even a 3. ...obviously, I lost the arguement. I guess everything really "is" relative."

--Anonymous

"I was a seasonal National Park Ranger at Cape Hatteras National Seashore that summer, Buxton NC. Several of the seasonals desided to remain on the island to "ride out" the storm (at the fire CACHE). Since I was from New England, I was aware of what happens during hurricanes. However, had Belle hit the Cape our small group would have been heading for the water tank up the road from the Coast Guard quarters. The elevations at the tank was at least 15 to 17 feet above sea level and the possible tide surge would have been at least 16 ft plus. It was quite a few days to better days."

--Murph

"I was 13 years and lived in Mass. I remember my mom taping the windows with masking tape so they wouldn't shatter. The windows didn't break, but I remember not being able to close the outside door because the wind was so strong. I was excited about it."

--Clare

"I went to Shelter Island to help secure boats with my Uncle Brooke and Father Ross. The calm before the storm was there around 4 or 5pm. The winds picked up. This was actually on a part of the island known as Big Ram. My Dad, Grandma, and the older couple staying in the guest house had the proverbial "Hurricane Party" At the height of the storm, they decided to walk down towards the beachfront of Coecels Harbor. We were nearly swept out to sea. As we headed back to the house, a huge limb the size of a garbage pail fell behind us. Another branch fell next to us. As we got into the house we saw lightning hit the power pole and knock out power to my Grandmas home. The howling was incredible, then a strange silence. The eye crossed right over us. We went out and could see the stars and I think even the moon. Then, the winds shifted direction. The second half of the storm was fast upon us. The next morning the beaches and causways were lined with boats as if there was a party or boat sale. I saw many ancient oaks destroyed or split down the middle. It was quite an experience for a 15 year old boy, and ever since I have been an amatuer storm chaser, much to the chagrin of my wife and kids. I have some photos that I recently came across of the damage. As long as no one dies, I'll always love hurricanes. It's like mother nature fighting back at all we do to dump on her."

--Jack McHugh

"We were saved by the full moon which kept the tide from coming over our bulkhead. Our home was located on Mystic Island in NJ. We still had lots of wind and rain damage. Our home was built on stilts and one of them broke our house became tilted and we could not live in it. We also lost all our railroad ties which held back the sand and our storm door flew off. Also, our bulkhead had $5,000 worth of damage due to our neighbors boat."

--Anonymous

"We are a family from England and the 3 of us, myself, my wife, and our son aged 7 at the time, were spending an enjoyable vacation at the Sea Ranch Hotel, Kill Devil Hills when we were warned of the approach of Hurricane Belle. Hurricanes being a completely new experience to us we decided to stay at the Hotel rather than evacuate.

We watched the weather reports on the television giving us an up to date and accurate account of the approach of the Hurricane, the Hotel staff equipped us with a Hurricane Lamp and a supply of candles.

The power duly failed and at about 10.00p.m we were disturbed by loud knocking on the door of our room and upon opening the door we were greeted by a State Trouper who gave us the following advice:

"If you are going to stay here don't panic and decide that you should leave the safety of the Hotel as all the bridges to the mainland were already under water and that most deaths were caused by drowning when people suddenly took evasive action. He also invited us to go with him to a Hurricane Shelter or other place of safety, we declined the invitation and continued to "enjoy" our first experience of this weather phenomenom.""

--Alan from Yorkshire

"I am Karen Mayer. I was born in August of 1985, long after the occurence of Hurricane Belle. But the effect that it has had on my life exists. My aunt, Karen Ann Mayer, was one of twelve people killed when she and her boyfriend, Edward, went out to see the storm. As they looked up, a tree fell and tragically fell upon her and her beau. She was DOA and he had two broken legs by the end of it. My grandfather, grandmother, and brother were all shocked to learn of her untimely death, as were many others. They lived in Franklin Square, NY and Karen will always be remembered. "

--Boddah_Buddah

"I was 10 years old in 1976 when Hurricane Belle hit my hometown of Merrick, Long island. I remember the adults all talking about past hurricanes and all of the damage they had seen and I was very frightened. My dad had all the windows taped up around our quaint Cape Cod style home. We didn't have hurricane shutters, etc. I remember thinking the winds and rain were "cool" at first, but then they began to howl and not stop.

Our power went out and only the house on the corner had power returned by the next day. The rest of lived, "picnic style" as my mom called it, eating whatever we had that didn't need to be thrown away due to the lack of refrigeration. A tree fell and was leaning on our house and during the eye of the storm, my dad and another neighbor were able to bring it down safely. I remember watching in awe as they sprang into action.

By doing this during the eye, they avoided more damage from the tree's precarious position when the storn continued a short time later. My family all pulled together during Hurricane Belle. Everyone had a job to do to secure the house and yard. I thought of it as a big adventure. It wasn't until the mid-80's when Hurricane Gloria hit Long Island and I was then an adult, that I realized how dangerous Belle had really been. As a child, the hurricane was mysterious and exciting.

As an adult, hurricanes are just scary -- and not to mention inconvenient! As I write this, it is now almost 30 years later and I am preparing my home in SW Florida for Hurricane Charley. Now we have hurricane shutters, 5-day coolers and 4 days notice! My husband, who is from England, is experiencing his first major hurricane. He's an adult so he's nervous. We're prepared so I am going to try and weather this one out the way I did as a child - with awe and fascination."

--Marci from Merrick

"I was 20 at the time, living on the south shore of eastern Long Island. I went down to the beach the evening of the 9th, about 6 hours before Belle was estimated to hit. I remember the low, scudding grey clouds overhead. They were moving strangely - and rapidly - in a southwest direction, as if the eye of the storm was sucking everything in the sky toward it. It was eerie. The ocean wasn't so much one of big pounding waves as it was wild frothing surf. A real encounter with the power of nature!"

--Larry

"My family had purchased a 28'-Trojan powerboat in the winter of 1974 and was enjoying the 2nd season of ownership in the summer of 1976, after recently moving the boat to its dockage on the Hudson River, at the Poughkeepsie Yacht Club in Staatsburg, NY.

When he knew that Belle was on the way, my father was closely monitoring its path & grappling with preparations & decisions regarding the safety & security of the boat.

Would it be safer to pull it out & secure it on land, or was the river truly the safest place for a boat to ride out such a storm? Many members at the club did decide to pull their boats out, while others, including my father reasoned that leaving the boat in & docked, with a vigilant watch was the better solution.

I don't recall the experience at home when Belle finally hit as anything much more extraordinary than any other storm experience I had lived through as a child of only 6 at the time. What I do remember though was the phone ringing, every few hours through the night--my father calling my mother with updates:

A boat neighboring ours had sunk and they were trying to get in touch with the owner, the constant pounding against the dock was starting to rip a hole in one corner of the stern, our boat was taking on water-but so far my dad was running the bilge pump & keeping up with it, one line had been pulled so furiously that the cleat had been torn off the boat, and some boats on land had been blown off of their blocks. . . . . My dad was growing tired & frustrated, but still seemed like he had things under control & was doing a good job of protecting the boat that we all loved.

When my father finally returned home sometime late in the next day, I saw something that I have now --nearly 30 yrs later-- only seen twice again. . . . my father's tears. My mother recalled in telling this story to others that for her, it was the only time other than his own father's death, that she had seen him cry. While my father's tears were probably more for release than upset, I truly understood only at that moment the fierce & unweilding power of nature. From that moment, I became & have remained awed, reverant, yet still strangely drawn to such types of natural activity--I am that crazy person who's out there where no one should be in such weather. I thank Belle for challenging that spirit within my father & imparting it within me.

As a post-script. . . . . although many boats sustained varying degrees of damage from the storm. . . all-in-all, our boat did make it through & remained a pleasure to our family for nearly a decade to follow. Along with my fearful memories of Belle, are happy ones of working alongside my Dad---helping to replace the damaged planks to the stern, refitting the

missing cleat & repainting our boat back to its "good as new" condition.

As a second post-script. . . . a few years ago, another storm threatened the area (this one caused severe structural damage to the yacht club's clubhouse roof) . . . . but my Dad was safely at home this time. . . . having ensured that his new "baby" . . . a 35' Egg-Harbor was safely secured on land, where she experienced no damage. :o)"

--BarBillBev

" My family was on its annual vacation in Lavalette, NJ during this time period. The hurricane was the only news around town for days prior to it's arrival. I was 17 and had my first car. We decided to ride out the storm. A few family members left as soon as police and fire vehicles went up and down streets announcing mandatory evacuations. The evacuation orders sent chills up and down my spine as the realization of how dangerous this storm was set in.

I recall the winds were rising in the late afternoon and the town had become deserted. As night began to fall the winds were really howling. At this point my Uncle panicked and ran out of the house to leave saving only the television. After this event we all decided to leave. We drove over the Seaside bridge and I recall waves in the bay were cresting at six - ten feet.

I was an avid surfer and got up at 4AM and awoke my sister to head back to town. The ocean had crossed town and entered the bay during the night. Sand was everywhere in drifts. Front end loaders and graders were beginning to remove sand. This went on for a couple days. The winds were off shore and the ocean was a beautiful site. Waves were cresting at approximately thirty feet! It was not choppy, but beautiful clean waves with the tops blowing off.

The board walk had damage and some structures had danage. A garage across the street from us had tilted to 70 degrees from vertical and looked as though it would fall. Surprisingly it stood for years! I will never forget these events and it seems like yesterday.

"

--71CUDA

"My family lived in Kitty Hawk, NC, during the Hurricane. We evacuated to relatives in Virginia until the eye passed the Outer Banks. I remember going on the beach where the sand was so soft, we sank up to our knees! "

--Anonymous

"I was 22 years old and had just graduated from West Point in June. I was staying at the Sea Watch in Ocean City Md during the Hurricane. After the storm passed I was on the beach with my brother and sister, the ocean was still churning like a washing machine from the storm.

A young girl (about 13-14) was swept out into the ocean and we heard her scream for help. I had been a life guard and a swimmer in High School and my brother was on the swim team at West Point. We both ran immediately to her rescue as did the Ocean City life guard. My brother and the life guard were never able to break the surf and get out to the girl, I was larger and was able to swim to the bottom to avoid being pushed back to shore. Once I got out I initially could not find the girl because the ocean was so turbulent, heck, you couldn't see the condos on the beach unless you were at the top of a wave. I was able to rescue the girl and got her back to shore, a large crowd had gathered and gave me some applause. I didn't get the girls name, I was thankful I was at the right place and time to make a difference in her life."

--USMA 76

"In 1976 I was 12 years old. My parents were renovating their 80 year old historic hotel at the Jersey shore. As my sister and I helped them make renovation noises indoors, hurricane Belle rivalled us with her winds outdoors. We listening to the howling winds and looked out the second floor window to see the rain being blown almost horizontal sometimes. The sign on the pole outside the hotel clanged for hours. It was an ominous reminder of the strength of such winds. Mom and dad tried to keep us pre-occupied by allowing us to help with the renovations.

The electricity flickered for a long time before it finally went out. I remember watching the flood waters rise to just a half block from our hotel. We were lucky. The waters stopped there and we were spared flooding. Unfortunately, the other places along the beach were seriously damaged by the flooding due to the storm surge. I have never forgotten the impressions that storm made on me. It was the largest I had ever seen. It prepared me well.

I had to evacuate my college housing on the Long Island sound at the University of Bridgeport in 1985 due to hurricane Gloria. "

--Anonymous

"I was 13 at the time and will always remember this hurricane!!! I grew up in Connecticut and had heard stories of the occasional bad storm but this was the worst. I was at camp with the Girl Scouts in eastern Connecticut the week the hurricane hit. We had to be evacuated to a local school. We took our sleeping bags and belongings on the bus and were put in the gym over night. I remember lying on the floor trying to sleep when the counselors yelled out that the eye was over us. We all got up and went outside to see the starlit night and feel the calm. What an awesome sight!! I loved it and found it all very exciting at the time.

Meanwhile, however, (I found out later) my parents were trying to drive to the camp from the other side of the State to get me but had to turn around that night because the storm was so bad. Needless to say, they came and got me the next day!!! "

--sweetie

"We are originally from Ohio and my wife and I and our two daughters were vacationing at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. We were "vets" of snow storms and several tornados but this was our first experience with any kind of hurricane activity. We spent the night in our motel about a mile from the beach listening to the wind and watching the trees blow down.

The next day we went to the beach and had a great time in the surf and beautiful sunny weather. It was hard to believe a hurricane had recently blew into town. Now we live in Florida and have had 3 hurricanes in our area in the last 5 weeks. "

--Lou

"I am lucky to survive Hurricane Belle. At 14 years old I evaded the police patrolling Narragansett Beach in Rhode Island by jumping in the water near the Coast Guard House restarant to surf with my Sister's Boyfriend Mike, the morning after the storm. It's the only time in my life I've ever surfed in waves that huge. After riding my first wave of the day, and paddling back out, I was almost over the crest of a mountainous wave when I was thrown backwards and the surfboard hit me square in the nose and my wesuit was torn open down to my waste.

Lucky to be concious, I made it to the shore and Mom took me straight to the hospital to put my nose back where it belonged! That nose was moved almost an inch to the side. I'm 43 years old with quite a nose that needs serious work that I've had to explain to many people over the years. I'm happy to be alive!"

--Bruce W.

"I was 11 years old and vacationing with my family in Asbury Park. I remember the nervous anxiety as the older people prepared for Hurricane Belle. We were staying in a guest house 2 blocks from the ocean. The rain and wind were intense. At the age of eleven, I could already tell I loved the weather.

I begged my parents to bring me to the beach to see the ocean and watch the huge waves. As we approached the boardwalk on 6th Avenue, I vividly can remember feeling the pelting wind driven rain. A large building with a salt water pool was located at the corner of 6th Avenue on the boardwalk.

It blocked much of the wind during the hurricane. I was a real skinny boy at the time(wish I still was)and I remember passing the pool building and then being airborn. I rolled with the very strong wind gusts and rolled about 50-75 feet. I was saved by a boardwalk bench that stopped my movement. Thank God for my father running after me to save me. It was an unforgettable experience.

My cousins also stayed in a small cottage on 6th Ave, it was part of the Ponitac Hotel. I remember them saying the next morning that they thought the roof was going to collapse. Wild weather!! What an amazing experience for an 11 year weather enthusiast."

--Greg

"When Hurricane Belle slammed into Long Island. I was 11 years old and living in Levittown. I remember my father coming up to my bedroom which was on the top floor of the house. My corners of my bedroom were starting to creak at the ceiling from the wind. Shortly after my Mother came up the stairs to check on my brother and myself.

My mother was holding a candle and my father a flash light. The next morning when my father went outside to check the damage he noticed that the roof was slightly off. So I remember my father saying thank god! We didn't loose the roof. I tried to make the best of it. We cooked on kerosine camper stove and talked by a campers lantern in the kitchen for a few days. I thought it was kind of cool when I was that age."

--medic

"I was in Sea Isle City, NJ during Hurricane Belle. Walked out on a jetty and then around town. Slept in a house on the 2nd flr right next to the Water Tower on 39th st. - clanging all night long"

--Anonymous

"I lived in Bayville NJ back in 1976, and was 8 years old during that summer. I remember watching the clouds roll in that afternoon, and the weather reports being broadcast on WOBM. That night was rather scary to say the least, the tape on the windows held everything in place, but the sound was erie. Our road was very prone to flooding and this storm was no exception. "

--redgts

"I was 11 years old at the time Hurricane Belle hit New Jersey, and my family was camping at Bass River state park. My dad was an ex-marine so he believed we didn't need to listen to the radio or anything like that to distract our time surrounded by nature. At the last minute, the park rangers came around to tell everyone about the upcoming storm. Needless to say, when they got to us, the chance of evacuating had long past. Being the resourceful outdoorsman, my dad instructed us in preparing our tent to withstand the storm by digging trenches and securing the tent with extra pegs.

When the actual storm hit, there were rain drops the size of golf balls. . . it was if someone had a constant pour of water from a bucket on your head. Instantly you were wet to your skivies. My three sisters and I were terrified. The wind had a horrible-fierce howl, trees were falling, the constant sound of breaking branches and countless projectiles flying about. My dad did a great job of minimalizing the situation, to reassure us that it would blow over wtihout a problem. Cold, wet, hungry and tired, we spent the night of the storm inside of the family car.

Later the next morning, the view of fallen trees and debris around us were a reminder of just how lucky we were. Almost half of the water that was in the lake was gone. . . replaced with a maze of mangled trees and branches. Believe it or not, our tent was still standing! Completely wet inside and out, but still standing. Of course all of our gear was strewn across a two mile area. Well, I do recall later as an adult that officialy, hurricane Belle was only a category one hurricane, but for my sisters and I, that was our first horrific experience ever."

--Anonymous

"I was only 7 years old when she hit, but I do remember her well, only because that storm scared me, I was young at this time. and this was my 1st hurricane, We had a 2 story home at that time and I had a favorite tree just outside our back door close to the house, a very big and about 100 year old tree. Well we went to sleep or at least I tried too, But was woken by the sound of the wind howling and whipping as well as the tree branches banging against the house and the sound of wood cracking and splitting, I just remember it being very loud and scary.

Well when we woke the tree that was outside my parents bedroom window was no longer there, Itwoke my parents due to the fact it used to cover and shade the window, now the light and sun was gleeming threw the same window, we looked out the back door and the tree was about 2 feet away from the house on the ground split right in half, god was watching over my parents for another 2 inches it would have crashed threw the roof into the house, right where my parents had there bed, So the thoughts about that storm have always been, my 1st hurricane I lost my favorite tree and the fact my parents didnt leave 3 young children orphans. Thank you for letting me share!! Heather Smith"

--Heathers5469@aol.com

"I was nearly 11 in August 1976. I was from Long Island but upstate in Rhinebeck, NY at summer camp when Belle hit. You wouldn't have thought it would affect us there, but it did! We lost all the electrical power (while camp was pretty rustic, we did have electricity) for about 36 hours. Because we lost the electrical power, we also lost the plumbing. Though it was an adventure for us campers. We ate by candleight, used the woods outside the bunk as our restroom, and sat around a lot. I'm pretty sure the creek (babbling brook?) right at the front entrance to our camp overflowed, which seemed pretty amazing at the time.

I remember one fellow camper being very worried about her parents in Oceanside (on Long Island). She made sure we all knew that the town was named Oceanside because it was -- duh -- near the ocean. I think her parents were fine!

Like many others on this board, I thought Belle was a much worse hurricane than it actually was. "

--Anonymous

"I was 11 Years old when Belle hit Long Island. We were living in Port Jefferson at the time. I was getting ready for bed when the storm finally hit, I remember our dogs were acting up and it was getting really eerie out side. I kept watching out of my bedroom window. We had a massive maple tree in the back yard and it was swaying to one side like I had never seen it do before.

There was a lot of lightning, rain, and some thunder as the storm progressed. I remember the rain going horizontally in the spot lights we had turned on in the back yard. Then all of the sudden very quickly, the wind was dying down and the sky grew darker. I could hear some dogs in the nieghborhood whining. I had never heard dogs whine like that before. By now the sky was pitch black and you could almost hear a pin drop, as the eye of the hurricane had moved directly over us. I will never forget it. It was like something out of a horror movie or something.

Then the wind started picking back up again. And along with it came the most devastating storm that I would ever experience. The wind was more fierce than before and the ligtning and rain was torrential. I looked outside my bedroom winddow and our tool shed was starting to sway a bit. My father had that shed lag bolted to a concrete slab. The wind was now howling pretty bad, and I was watching the shed wobble when all of the sudden the shed was ripped from the slab and tumbled across the yard and smashed into the chain link fence.

I went into the kitchen to get a drink when all of the sudden there was a loud boom, but it wasn't thunder. I ran into my bedroom to see what it was and there was 2 feet of water in the back yard. We couldn't figure out what had happened. The water was now pouring into our basement through the basement windows. Now the basement was flooded and we did not know where 2 feet of water would come from all of the sudden.

Eventually the storm had moved on and the water in the back yard was subsiding. My mom and dad were in the basement most of the night using the wet vac to suck up the water. We went into the back yard to clean up the mangled shed pieces and we saw what had caused the flood, it was the nieghbors massive oval abaove ground pool that had collapsed and emtied all of the water into out yard. I got on my bike and took a cruise through the nieghborhood and there was debris everywhere; Tree branches were all over the place. This is an experience I dont ever want to go through again. My name is Mike Pechacek. I am now 39 years old and living in Mesa, Arizona with my wife and 2 children. "

--mike@mikepeck.net

"I was 12 years old that summer, on vacation with my family at the Jersey shore in Manasquan. Our house was about 1/2 mile from the ocean and my father, sister and I ventured out that night to see what it was like. I remember water up to my waist and the intense wind which casued a street sign to snap in half very close to me. We went about 1 block then made a hasty retreat to the house. "

--Morgan

"I was only 5 when this storm hit, but I can clearly remeber my father huddling us all into the basement which he had stocked full of food and water and plenty of batteries. To ease our minds, he got us all sleeping bags and had us pretend it was a sleepout !! We lived in Bayshore, LI at the time."

--cc486

"My family and I were on vacation in the Washington DC area on the night of August 7--the night before we flew down to Norfolk, Virginia. That night, we heard that the DC area would be lucky--the area just to the south of Norfolk was under a hurricane watch for Hurricane Belle. Our maps indicated that the Norfolk area was just to the north of Cape Hatteras--and likely in the path of the storm.

I had read stories about Hurricane Camille in 1969--a big monster--and the 1900 hurricane in Galveston, Texas. Nonetheless, we flew down to Norfolk the next day under darkening clouds. In fact, we never saw sunlight during our brief flight (which stopped in Williamsburg on the way). Our hotel after we arrived was The Cavalier--on the ocean in Virginia Beach.

TV and radio stations were talking about Hurricane Belle being a Category 1 storm--nothing on the size of Hurricane Camille. One news story in fact was about a world-record attempt by a group of people to see how long they could leap-frog each other. The newscaster said that they would probably get rained out.

Nonetheless, we checked out the next day and headed to a motel near Williamsburg, Virginia. The wind was picking up, rain was coming down and it was freezing cold. Nonetheless, there was nothing too out of the ordinary in terms of such things as the traffic reports, for example.

By the end of the day, the rain had let up and the sun had begun to break through the clouds. Next day's newspapers talked about people watching the waves at hotels such as the Cavalier and even a hurricane party on top of the World Trade Center in New York City. We felt foolish for getting out of Dodge, but after reading accounts of such storms as David and Frederic, I think we did the right thing. "

--Anonymous

"In 1976 I was 20 and fearless! I lived in New Jersey and was staying on Long Beach Island with my girlfriends for the summer. My first taste of true independence. We girls lived next door to guys from a north jersey high school who moonlighted as lifeguards! As our parents were freaking out as the storm was headed our way, They called and ordered me to get off that island! They even called the guys next doors parents! Because I hung with the local lifeguards, we actually helped the people on our streets evacuate to a local highschool gym in Manahawkin, where we camped out for the night. I recall being scared at the sound of the wind, as we really got to the school as the skies opened up. When we returned the next day, I remember being amazed at how there was a seat of a boat in my front yard, and a lifeguard chair from the beach across the street. We lived on the bay side! "

--Anonymous

"I was just about ten years old and lived in Coram, NY. Memories of the actually hurricane are not that vivid to me. Just a lot of wind and a little bit scared. My main memory was no electricity for quite a few days and all the Dads were home from work. I spent some time in my hanging out in my friend Lisa's garage. Her Dad taught us some silly songs to entertain us. It wasn't television, but it made an impression on me. I sing the silly songs to my kids now!"

--Christine


 

DISASTER DETAILS

Hurricane Belle southeast of Charleston, South Carolina on August 8, 1976.

Courtesy of NOAA

Date(s): August 8-10, 1976

Location: Northeastern U.S.

Deaths: 12

Injuries: 

Damage: $24M


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