“There is no official reopening date for Liberty Island” are the forbidding words written on the National Park Service website. Liberty and Ellis Islands are still being restored after the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy and show no definite signs of being reopened to the public. According to NBC, the Statue of Liberty welcomed 3.7 million visitors last year and will lose out on millions of dollars because of the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy.
New York has waited for three months but the senate have finally issued a $50.5 billion dollar package as part of the relief aid for Hurricane Sandy from which the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island will receive a cut.
The Statue of Liberty has stood on Liberty Island since 1886 when it was gifted by the people of France. From 1892 to 1954, the statue welcomed over twelve million immigrants to New York and has since becoming a beacon of hope and an iconic symbol of freedom for the waves of Irish immigrants praying for a better life as they entered New York through the immigration station on Ellis Island
126 years after Liberty was placed on her pedestal, along comes Hurricane Sandy in all her 820 mile-wide destructive glory, generating a fresh appreciation for the iconic place of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in Irish-American history.
The Statue of Liberty was faithfully protected by the iron framework which surrounded it, however, Liberty and Ellis Island did not escape so easily and will take much time and money to be restored to its former state.
Statue of Liberty Superintendent David Luchsinger reported that an entire 75% of the 12 acre island had been submerged under water during Hurricane Sandy and the Island's utilities, backup generator, and power systems were destroyed. Severe damage was also caused to the passenger and auxiliary docks and the brick pathways were uprooted.
NBC reported that nearly all of Liberty Island’s infrastructure was destroyed by water that was more than five feet deep over some parts of the island while it will take a long time to repair the electrical system and infrastructure of the immigrant complex on Ellis Island.
The Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazer, estimated that repairs to both Ellis Island and Liberty Island may amount to a colossal $59 million. In December of 2012 he is quoted as saying "We're going to get this done as soon as we possibly can because [the Statue of Liberty is] such an important icon for New York and America."
Now, three months on, there is hope as NBC reports that the cleanup is largely complete, the damage, documented, and details of a final plan for the parks reopening will likely come within the next few weeks. Officials are hopeful that the Statue of Liberty will be open by summer.
The Statue of Liberty-Ellis foundation and the National Park Service are currently working hard at restoring both Liberty and Ellis Island to their former glory. It is possible to make donations on the www.ellisisland.org website with the added bonus of knowing that whatever you donate will be doubled by a challenge grant made by a very generous board member.
Over 40% of the American population can trace their ancestors through Ellis Island immigration records and up to 15,000 people visit the Statue of Liberty daily. Let’s hope that it will not be too long until both of these iconic landmarks can be restored and shared with the world once again.
No Irish Need Apply? Not anymore