Updated 12/13/2012 07:53 PM
Interior Secretary Surveys Damage On Liberty Island
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar toured Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty Thursday to assess damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
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From a distance, you can't make out the extensive damage suffered by Liberty Island in Hurricane Sandy, but up close, there's plenty to see.
"The fact that it was all flooded and underwater, infrastructure has to be replaced, but you look at the pier here, the secondary pier behind us, there's just a lot of work that needs to be done," said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
Salazar made a stop at Liberty Island Thursday as part of a helicopter tour of national parks damaged in the storm. Portions of a stone walkway were washed away and discarded bricks line the path used by roughly 4 million visitors who visit the Statue of Liberty each year.
Fences and retaining walls were destroyed. One dock was completely mangled. On another, wooden planks buckled and broke.
"We will do everything humanly possible to get this island back operational," said John Jarvis, director of the National Park Service. "It needs to be safe. It needs to be secure."
Electricity has yet to be restored, and all of the administrative buildings were flooded, including the home of the park superintendent. Those buildings will likely be knocked down rather than rebuilt.
Officials estimate it will cost some $59 million to repair the destruction, and that's not including revenue lost from the tourists who can't visit while the work is done.
Parks officials couldn't say exactly when they planned to reopen the island to the public, though they didn't rule out the idea of reopening it in sections to get people back as quickly as possible.
"It may be bringing in some temporary rail barges to be able to create a temporary pier," Salazar said.
The National Park Service is appealing to Congress for supplementary funds to restore the 19 parks and monuments in its system that were damaged by Sandy.
Officials said nearly half of the island's tourists visit between now and April, which means the agency could lose about $6 million in revenue if the island stays closed until then.