TODAY | July 04, 2013
>>> now to a fitting reopening on this 4th of july . for the first time in more than eight months the statue of liberty welcoming visitors again. katie is live on liberty island in new york harbor . happy fourth.
>> reporter: happy fourth to you, willie. to give you an idea where we are, we're right across the island of manhattan here on liberty island . it's been since superstorm sandy hit just too damaged to let people on here. but they're finally going to reopen for the 4th of july , allowing visitors once again to meet our country's gate keeper . she's been standing sentinel over new york harbor for 126 years, guiding in the poor, tired, huddled masses yearning to breathe free. but of late, she's been decidedly lonely. one day after her 126th birthday, sandy came rushing in, swamping lady liberty 's tiny island, breaking railings, breaking docks, and tearing up paving stones. eight long months with nary a visitor until today, the 4th of july .
>> very fitting. perfect, actually. independence day , and it's great that it's reopening on the 4th.
>> reporter: for the first time since the storm, liberty lovers will be allowed back on the island and back up to her crown. in 2009 , "today" was there for her grand reopening after 9/11.
>> we come to you live from the statue of liberty today.
>> reporter: climbing all 354 steps to the crown.
>> cancel the gym.
>> reporter: it took nearly a decade to resolve security concerns after the 2001 attacks, and today security will once again be a priority with visitors going through screenings both before the ferry ride and at her base. a minor inconvenience for those who look up and see the statue as not just a symbol of our freedom, but our resilience.
>> the statue reopening after hurricane sandy, it's just like a testament to the courage and fortitude of new yorkers. everyone has stuck together and stayed strong. now we have a chance to turn to a symbol of our great, great city.
>> reporter: liberty island and ellis island , which is right back there, sustained about $59 million in damage. ellis island is still closed. they hope to get it back up and running later this year. our video is very good. our cameras are very good. doesn't quite do it justice. you've really got to see her in person. it's quite magnificent. and my producer will scream at me if i don't tell you this, but she really is our nation's first miss america , unofficially. i think we're going to go with it.
>> there she is. she's got the tiara and all. katie, thanks so much. nothing like seeing the fireworks over lady liberty . we'll see them tonight.
>> just standing by is impressive.
>> going to be a beautiful