Long Island Hurricane Memories

It looks like a category one hurricane may be heading into the heart of New York City. As a person who spends a lot of time looking at old pictures, the only thing I can predict is that a few years from now we will probably be looking at photos of Irene when the next one is coming.

Hurricane Belle damage, Freeport, 1976

As a person in my 40’s who grew up on Long Island, I have a few hurricane memories of my own. In 1976 I was nine, and we were warned Hurricane Belle was coming. It was supposed to be bad (I always thought it was spelled Bell, had more of a ring to it that way). Anyway, my parents battened down the hatches, I helped, and in a way it was all very exciting, something unusual was going to happen. But Belle turned east at the last minute and in Queens all we got was a big rain and a small breeze. For New York City  the much bigger weather events of the next couple of years were three huge snowstorms that hit in ’77 and ’78. It would have been nice if Belle could have lived up (just) a little closer to expectations. For a while a lot of us in Queens thought hurricanes were just a lot of hype.

My next hurricane experience was in 1985 as a college student at Stony Brook University. Gloria was more than hype. I remember the wind and the rain. I liked to think that the eye had passed right through campus, but looking it up it appears it passed through Commack to our west.  On the campus itself the damage didn’t seem devastating, but it was a different story in the surrounding towns. I saw a lot of trees down and there was no power anywhere.

Hurricane Gloria damage, Fire Island, 1985

As a person with extremely limited weather knowledge, it looks like a hurricane with roughly the strength of Gloria’s is going to hit us. Winds were approxamately 80 miles an hour when Gloria made landfall between Long Beach and Fire Island, they are predicted to be about the same for Irene. The big difference is Irene’s path looks to be more to the west. This will do some serious damage, but it will probably not be completely devastating.

More Hurricane Links

Current CBS Local Forecast

Hurricane Precautions from About.com

Hurricane Tracking Site From Stormpulse

NYC Hurricane Evacuation Zone Finder

History of Long Island Hurricanes

Long Island Hurricane Summary

And Wrightsville Beach NC Precautions (maybe they know what they are doing better in NC when it comes to hurricanes)

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  1. Gene B

     /  August 29, 2011

    During a major hurricane in 1944, my father telephoned from the subway station one block away from our home in Brooklyn, asking for someone to bring him an umbrella and raincoat to walk home in the storm. Being the youngest in our household, at 11-years-old, I was selected for the trek and got all dressed up with a slick raincoat and hat to brave the elements, which by then were heavy rains and strong winds. As I got about three-quarters of the way to the station, with rain pelting my face, I saw a large tree lying across the street.

    When I reached the station, it was packed with people who were waiting for some let-up in the downpour. As I gave the umbrella and raincoat to my father, I told him about the downed tree, and this news was somewhat astonishing to those standing nearby. My father quickly let me know that it was nothing to worry about. When I think now about his participation in trench warfare during World War One, my racing alone one block in a hurricane, while scary to a youngster, would be like a walk in the park to a former combat Infantryman. Our trip down the block was a lot calmer, and when home, I proudly told my older siblings how I survived the Great Adventure.


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