A park ranger patrols Liberty Island, which was damaged in Superstorm Sandy. (John Moore/Getty Images)
The Statue of Liberty, which has been closed to the public since Superstorm Sandy struck in October, will reopen by July 4, federal officials announced Tuesday.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and New York Sen. Chuck Schumer made the announcement nearly five months after the storm shut down tours of the monument and Liberty Island. While the statue itself was not seriously harmed by the storm, several buildings on the island suffered major flooding, wiping out the island’s electrical system and sewage pumps. The main dock used by tourist ferries carrying visitors from lower Manhattan and New Jersey was also destroyed.
“It’s good news, it’s a little overdue, but at least it’s there, and now we’ll watch like a hawk to make sure that this promise is kept,” Schumer told NBC New York.
In January, Congress allocated $59 million to repair both Liberty Island and nearby Ellis Island, which also sustained major damage in the storm. But federal officials have not announced when Ellis Island will reopen. In November, more than a million artifacts had to be removed from the museum there because of fears they might not be properly preserved because of damage to the climate-control system in the building.
The Statue of Liberty is one of the country’s most popular landmarks. According to the National Park Service, roughly 3.7 million people visited the site in 2011—the last year full data was available.