Sandy's flood waters didn't spare two of New York Harbor's most famous monuments, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, and while some operations have returned, there's still work to be done to get everything back to normal and to protect against the possibility of another storm. NY1's Jon Weinstein filed the following report.
For now, the best view anyone can get of Ellis Island is on a boat from afar. The island, which welcomed millions of immigrants to the city and country, is still inaccessible nearly a year after Hurricane Sandy.
"Some of the walls, some of the historic windows were blown out. Doors were blown out. The ferry building was completely ravaged," said Dave Luchsinger, the superintendent of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, who said that nearly all of the infrastructure was also destroyed.
Few people understand the extent of the damage to Ellis Island and Liberty Island, home to the Statue of Liberty, like Luchsinger. His home was only steps away from the Statue of Liberty until Hurricane Sandy destroyed it. Now, no one lives on the island. Instead, the land is slated to become a new visitor's center.
After being closed for eight months, the statue reopened July 4 and the visitors are back, but there is still a lot of work being done, including to the main entryway.
"We're going to have a brand new dock," Luchsinger said. "We're going to be better than we were before."
Three-quarters of Liberty Island was covered by water, as was all of Ellis Island. Between Liberty Island and Ellis Island, the total cost of Hurricane Sandy-related damage is roughly $77 million.
The federal government is paying for the fixes, and the goal is to rebuild the infrastructure in a sustainable way. On Liberty Island, most utilities, including electrical systems, will move from the ground level to the second floor of a previously unused building.
"It's the first thing all of us said, was, 'We're going to put all our stuff up in there,'" Luchsinger said.
Experts estimate that the Statue of Liberty is worth $180 million to the city's economy each year. But more than that, Luchsinger said that the country should be committed to protecting the islands for what they symbolize.