After Sandy: Devastation and determination in Belle Harbor

In Belle Harbor, N.Y., the only force greater than the devastation of Hurricane Sandy is the determination of the community

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The following script is from "Belle Harbor" which aired on Nov. 11, 2012. Scott Pelley is the correspondent. Clem Taylor, Magalie Laguerre-Wilkinson, Daniel Ruetenik, Robert Anderson and Nicole Young, producers.

This past week, snow began to fall on the shoulders of people struggling to get back up after Hurricane Sandy. Two weeks after the storm, many thousands are still out of their homes and thousands more have no power. A long stretch of the East Coast looks like it lost a war. One place still in the dark and the cold, is the New York City neighborhood of Belle Harbor.

For information on Hurricane Sandy relief, click here

It's a community of only a few thousand, but it has seen much more than its share of tragedy. A lot of its residents are cops and firemen. And many were lost on 9/11. Then two months later, in 2001, a jumbo jet crashed into the community. Now the storm has swept away a great deal of Belle Harbor, but it did not take way the grit of the people who always reach out for one another.

This was the moment, captured on a phone, when many in Belle Harbor thought fate would finally take their town.

Susan Brady: We were terrified when the fire started. Because we watched the houses on the next block go up one after another and the fire department couldn't get here 'cause the water was so high.

The water was six feet high at Susan Brady's porch when her son shot this video -- the moment the neighborhood was squeezed into a narrow space between drowning and burning.

Brian Brady: The water was breaking on the back deck, it was coming through the basement windows, the garage, the kitchen window shattered in the height of the storm and we were in a bad place.

The Bradys are an Irish American family typical for Belle Harbor. Jimmy and Brian are New York City firefighters. Patrick is applying to join the fire department. The night of the storm the Bradys did not evacuate, but Dennis was away on a trip to Florida.

Scott Pelley: I can't imagine anything worse than being 1,000 miles from here and have your wife on the phone telling you that the house is flooded and the fire's coming.

Dennis Brady: I couldn't wait to get in the car. I just could--

Scott Pelley: What did you do?

Dennis Brady: I ran to the store and got everything I could, generators, and water pumps and I just told the guy, "Stuff the car with everything you got in this place and put it in there. Here's my credit card."

Scott Pelley: Maxed out the credit card?

Dennis Brady: I called American Express and I told them, "Do what you have to do, but this stuff is going on the card."

Scott Pelley: How long did it take you to drive here?

Dennis Brady: Nineteen, 20 hours. You know, I stopped for gas and just kept going.

Scott Pelley: Straight through?

Dennis Brady: Straight through.