Hurricane Sandy Recovery

Broken seawall fence and informational tablet laying on a redbrick walkway.
Broken seawall railings and displaced informational wayside after Hurricane Sandy.


Upturned paver stones and bricks on a redbrick walkway.
Brick pavers dislodged from Sandy's storm surge.


After Hurricane Sandy

On October 29, 2012, flood waters from Hurricane Sandy covered 75% of Liberty Island and almost all of Ellis Island, flooding basements of all buildings with the exception of the Statue and Monument. Winds and flooding from the storm destroyed most of the infrastructure on both islands including; electric, water, sewer, HVAC systems, phone systems, security systems, and radio equipment. The visitor security screening facilities at Battery Park and Liberty State Park were destroyed. The main passenger pier and the work/emergency pier on Liberty Island were severely damaged, as were the perimeter walkway and railings around the island.

The Statue of Liberty is on Liberty Island, a 14 acre island located a mile south of lower Manhattan. Normally, the confines of the New York Harbor protect Liberty Island from extreme weather. However, when Hurricane Sandy hit, Liberty Island was in the direct path of a massive storm surge. Nearby in Battery Park, water rose 13.8 feet (4.2m). On Liberty Island, that meant nearly 75% of the island was under water according to former Statue of Liberty Superintendent David Luchsinger.

Luckily, the Statue of Liberty itself did not receive any damage. The Statue's iron framework designed by Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel allowed for the Statue of Liberty to withstand the storm's intense winds. However, the Island's utilities, backup generator, and power systems were destroyed. The passenger and auxiliary docks were severely damaged and brick pathways have been uprooted around the Island.

"We're going to get this done as soon as we possibly can because [the Statue of Liberty is] such an important icon for New York and America," said then Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar on December 13, 2012 after a tour of the Island. Salazar also estimated that repairs to both Ellis Island and Liberty Island may be as much as $59 million.

A yellow bulldozer sitting on a brown dirt mound in front of the Statue of Liberty.
Working on regrading the grounds on the east side of Fort Wood.


Repairs and Restoration

On July 4, 2013, Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty reopened to the public. The primary and secondary heating and electrical systems that serve the Island were replaced after being destroyed. The damaged system includes the boilers for the heating system and primary switchgear for the electrical system that were distributed between the basements of the Administration Building and the Concessions Building. Similar damage also took place at Ellis Island. On Liberty Island, the improvements necessary to create the central plant included a new elevated structural floor. Planners then calculated how to protect similar equipment on Ellis Island.

The Liberty Island Work Dock, a 7,060-square-foot timber dock, was assessed as a total loss and a hazard to navigation. It was removed and replaced through funding from a combination of NPS Sandy relief funds and the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration. Construction on the main visitor dock began when the work dock opened for public use. A temporary 40' x 300' floating barge was in place for visitors to maximize the number of visitors to Liberty Island while constuction happened.

Much of the promanade walkway was replaced due to the storm surge. Approximately 53,000 pavers were replaced, as well as removing the asphalt base down to the existing concrete to provide a more stable and sustainable starting base. Roughly 2000' of granite edging had to be replaced and approximately 465' of rails had to be replaced or repaired.


Last updated: January 31, 2018

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Mailing Address:

Liberty Island
New York, NY 10004


(212) 363-3200

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