The damage done by Superstorm Sandy is still lingering in New York even one month later. The iconic Statue of Liberty faced the brunt of the storm. Though Lady Liberty still stands tall, her beacon of light is littered with debris. Zoraida Sambolin had visited the recently renovated statue just before the storm had hit, when it was preparing to reopen to the public. Today, “while the statue itself is intact, the grounds suffered enough damage to force the closure of the park to the public indefinitely,” she says. “The national park service is now in the midst of a massive clean up effort in hopes of reopening both [the Liberty and Ellis Island] parks sometime early next year.”
She returned to the Statue of Liberty yesterday to see that Liberty Island had suffered devastation from the storm all around. The effects of Sandy were not just structural. Regularly, about 160 people work on the Island between the concession area and the park staff. “Concession workers and ferry employees were laid off this week due to the extended closure of both islands,” Sambolin reports. Park employees were sent to other parks. But Superintendent of the Statue of Liberty, Dave Luchsinger, sees better days ahead. “To see it in the state it's in right now,” he says about the statue, “I know it's going to be better.”
Lady Liberty has a new spring in her step.
The crown and interior of the iconic Statue of Liberty have been closed for a year for renovations that will make it wheelchair accessible for the first time. The year-long, $30 million renovation project includes a newly installed elevator to the statue’s observation deck, upgraded stairwells and several safety improvements.
These changes will allow an additional 26,000 visitors each year a chance to enjoy her spectacular views, including wounded veterans and others with disabilities.
CNN’s Zoraida Sambolin visited the site with two wounded warriors in an "Early Start" exclusive, and were among the first visitors to take advantage of the new and improved Lady Liberty. She joined Kirk Bauer, who lost his leg in Vietnam, and Jesse Acosta, whose suffered injuries to his hip from a roadside bomb in Iraq, on the 146-step climb to the top.