Nov. 2, 2012 at 9:59 AM ET
As New York recovers from Superstorm Sandy, two of the city’s most iconic landmarks are closed until further notice, the victims of the hurricane’s powerful storm surge.
Liberty Island -- home to the Statue of Liberty -- and Ellis Island -- where millions of immigrants once arrived in their quest to find a better life in America -- have sustained water damage and there is no power on either island, said Mindi Rambo, a spokeswoman for the National Parks of New York Harbor.
The good news: Lady Liberty appears to have made it through the storm unharmed.
“An initial assessment has indicated that the statue itself, from the base to the torch, is fine,” Rambo said.
The grounds were apparently flooded, however. A national team is scheduled to arrive in New York on Friday to perform a full assessment, so officials won’t know the full extent of the damage until that process is completed.
“Currently, the islands are closed for the foreseeable future. Until the assessment is done, we cannot determine when both islands will reopen,” Rambo said.
Maintenance crews have a huge challenge in pumping water and clearing debris from the islands, according to information posted on the Statue of Liberty National Monument’s Facebook page earlier this week.
The docks and grounds are in "bad shape," a source told NBC New York.
Liberty Island and Ellis Island have occasionally been closed in the past because of severe weather, but the National Park Service doesn’t have data on how often that happens, so it’s hard to gauge how rare such closures are, Rambo said.
“Right now, we need to take this one step at a time and our first step is to make sure that all the parks employees are safe and are OK going forward,” she added.
It’s a distressing turn of events for the National Park Service, which reopened the Statue of Liberty crown just Sunday after a year of renovations. Visitors eager to see magnificent views of the Big Apple and get a glimpse of the famous monument’s inner workings have been snapping up tickets for the attraction.
They’re out of luck – at least for now. The monument had to be closed the next day as Hurricane Sandy arrived, and it never reopened.
People who have reserved tickets to visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island can contact State Cruises, the official ferry transportation provider, for rescheduling and refund information. Call 1-877-LADYTIX or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.