Belle Harbor, like many of the communities on the East Coast, was devastated by Hurricane Sandy. In addition to the wind and the flooding, Belle Harbor also experienced one of the worst fires in its history. A gas leak during the storm ignited and fueled an explosion that destroyed a large segment of the community.
But Belle Harbor will bounce back. It has bounced back before. It is not new to facing adversity. It lost ten of its residents on 911. Five of them were firefighters. In fact, a large percentage of the residents of Belle Harbor are current or retired firefighters or police. And two months after 911, a passenger plane crashed into Belle Harbor killing all of the passengers on the plane and destroying a number of homes as well as killing a number of the residents of Belle Harbor.
Many of Belle Harbor’s residents consider themselves to be lucky that they are alive and that their homes may still be standing, even though damaged by flood waters and wind. The community is described by a number of residents as a 3-F community: family, friends and faith. Residents of Belle Harbor are connected. They see themselves as being responsible for one another and have demonstrated that repeatedly during the recent storm and its aftermath. They have faith, many in a benevolent God that will help them through this crisis, and they have faith in each other and themselves. Many are optimists. They believe that better days are ahead.
Many in the midst of this disaster are practicing gratitude and being thankful for what they have and not focusing completely on what they have lost.
Belle Harbor is just one example of resilience in the face of adversity. Stories of individual heroism and resilience abound in Belle Harbor, but they also abound in other communities that faced down Hurricane Sandy and are bouncing back.