Sean Heeran lost a brother in the World Trade Center on 9/11, one of 10 residents who died from the close knit Belle Harbor neighborhood he has lived in all his life.
Two months later, Sean lost a good friend who was one of five residents killed on the ground when a commercial passenger jet crashed near the Queens neighborhood, killing all of its 260 passengers. Now Heeran and his neighbors must deal with the devastating aftermath of a storm that made many of them homeless and destroyed the social center of the community, his father's Harbor Light Pub.
Heeran, his neighbors and Belle Harbor will be the focus of a 60 Minutes story to be broadcast Sunday, Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. ET/PT on the CBS Television Network.
Belle Harbor residents mourned their loved ones after funerals and wakes there. They celebrated the joys in life, too, the weddings, christenings and birthdays at the pub. It was the place they could go where everyone knew their names. Now, only a twisted green awning remains of the Harbor Light Pub, which burnt down in a huge fire stoked by Sandy's winds. "We'll probably sit down in a couple of weeks and figure out exactly what we're going to do," says Sean Heeran, whose father, Bernie, opened the pub in 1980. "We got a big cleanup ahead of us. We haven't even gotten to it because of all the homes that we're trying to get up and running...We'll be back. We'll be back," he tells Pelley.
One of the people who will help Heeran and his father bring the pub back is a wealthy restauranteur who grew up in the neighborhood and started his career at the Harbor Light as a busboy. James Brennan, owner of several restaurants in the San Diego area, has started raising funds to help his former neighbors, many of whom are firemen, police and sanitation workers. He has also flown several families back to the San Diego area to live and send their children to school until things improve back home.
Pelley's report will also take viewers back to the night Sandy hit, with the accounts of survivors who tell their stories and show them on videos taken at the peak of the storm. The story of Belle Harbor is the story of friends helping friends during one of the worst storms in history. It's a story about people like Jim O'Connor, who rescued 3-month-old Riley Tibbets from her burning home.