Superstorm Flooded Most Of Liberty Island

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Months after Superstorm Sandy swamped her little island, the Statue of Liberty will finally welcome visitors again.

The national landmark welcomes about 3.5 million visitors every year. It will reopen to tourists on Thursday, which is Independence Day.

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Sandy made landfall one day after the statue’s 126th birthday. The storm flooded most of Liberty Island in New York Harbor. Lady Liberty herself was spared, but the surrounding grounds took a beating.

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“We are delighted that Lady Liberty will once again be open to the public,” Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Superintendent David Luchsinger said in a statement in May. “We look forward to providing a safe and enjoyable experience to all of our visitors.”

Railings broke, docks and paving stones were torn up and buildings were flooded. The storm destroyed boilers, sewage pumps and electrical systems.

Hundreds of National Park Service workers from as far away as California and Alaska spent weeks cleaning mud and debris. In recent months, all mechanical equipment was moved to higher ground as workers put the island back in order.

The damage to Liberty Island and neighboring Ellis Island cost an estimated $59 million. Some repairs to brick walkways and docks are still underway, but on July 4 visitors will arrive via ferry boats once again to tour the national landmark.

A dock sits damaged near the Statue of Liberty on December 13, 2012.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

A dock sits damaged near the Statue of Liberty on December 13, 2012. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

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“People will have, more or less, the same access to Liberty Island that they had before,” said John Warren, a spokesman for the
Statue of Liberty National Monument.

Security screening for visitors will be held in lower Manhattan after city officials criticized an earlier plan to screen them at Ellis Island.

“It just made no sense to give people a security search once they got to Liberty Island,” Sen. Charles Schumer said last month.

Home to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, the island still doesn’t have working electricity, sewage systems or telephone lines, Warren said. It remains closed until further notice.

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