Ellis Island museum reopens after Sandy's floods - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken News, Weather, Sports

Ellis Island museum reopens after Sandy's floods

Posted: Updated:
NEW YORK -

The island that ushered millions of immigrants into the United States and became a monument to its mosaic of ancestries reopened to visitors Monday for the first time since Superstorm Sandy, adding a chapter to the narrative of hard-won recovery on the eve of the storm's anniversary.
    
The Ellis Island Immigration Museum hasn't fully recovered from the floods that filled its basement; many of its more than 1 million photographs and other artifacts are still in storage, and officials haven't yet repaired computers the public can use to research forebears. But visitors were able to return to much of the graceful main building, including some exhibits, and to absorb the island's singular views of the nearby Statue of Liberty and lower Manhattan.
    
"Awe" was Cathy Scheer's reaction as she stepped off the first visitor ferry Monday morning. The Riverside, Calif., resident and a colleague at a school bus driver-training company had arrived a day early for a business trip in hopes of seeing the statue and Ellis Island.
    
Some of Scheer's German and Scottish forebears immigrated via Ellis Island, so she was excited at "the chance to walk in my ancestors' shoes," she said.
    
Sandy's surge swamped Ellis Island, the entry point for about 12 million newcomers from 1892 to 1954 and a public historic site since 1976. David Luchsinger, the National Park Service superintendent for the island and the Statue of Liberty, arrived the day after Sandy to find doors and windows blown out, pilings strewn on the grounds and the basement full of water, which destroyed the electric, heating, air conditioning and phone systems.
    
Liberty Island was also inundated during Sandy and reopened on July Fourth, only to close again for a time during the recent partial federal government shutdown.
    
The floodwaters didn't touch the Ellis Island exhibits, which are on the first and higher floors, but they were later moved to storage because they could have deteriorated without climate control.
    
Rebuilding and storm proofing the electrical and other networks without marring the 1900, Beaux-Arts-style building was a challenge to plan and is still a $21 million, 18-month work in progress. Heat is currently running through the building's original radiators, instead of the modern climate-control system.
    
Officials are still working on regulating the radiators before bringing back venerable documents, clothes, musical instruments and other objects, Luchsinger said. He hopes to start returning the items to their galleries within about a month and to have the public family-research computers running again by the end of November.
    
"Yes, we are shy a little bit on exhibits and artifacts, but we're not shy on character, at all," he said while standing before a glass-enclosed array of steamer trunks and suitcases in the former baggage room where immigrants left belongings.
    
The climate-control and other systems are being elevated and waterproofed as much as possible without compromising the building's historic and architectural qualities, Luchsinger said. He estimates the building will be able to recover from any future major floods in a month or less.
    
"This is an icon," he said, speaking of the island and its role in the nation's diversity. "It's what this country is all about."
    
As the region looked toward the anniversary, federal Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan on Monday announced the release of a second, $2.1 billion round of federal Sandy aid to New York state, plus another $1.3 billion to New York City.
    
"The first year since Superstorm Sandy focused on recovery; the second year will focus on rebuilding," Sen. Charles Schumer said as he, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others joined Donovan at the announcement.
    
Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced new post-disaster insurance rules meant to get claims processed faster and get disputes resolved more quickly.

  • Trending StoriesTrending StoriesMore>>

  • Couple arrested for having sex on Cortez Beach in front of beachgoers

    Couple arrested for having sex on Cortez Beach in front of beachgoers

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 1:08 PM EDT2014-07-22 17:08:35 GMT
    Bradenton Beach police officers were dispatched to Cortez Beach after a few people called 911 and complained about a couple having sex publicly, right next to a little girl on the beach.
    Bradenton Beach police officers were dispatched to Cortez Beach after a few people called 911 and complained about a couple having sex publicly, right next to a little girl on the beach.
  • Largest companies by revenue in each state

    Largest companies by revenue in each state

    Thursday, July 10 2014 8:01 PM EDT2014-07-11 00:01:10 GMT
    Broadview Networks recently decided to find out the biggest -- by revenue -- company in each state in the US.The company used the Fortune 500 list to start with, but needed data by state, so it turned to Hoover's.With data from that company, they were able to search through each state's list of companies and then find the largest -- by revenue.Just flip through the list above and see who is the biggest in each state, what town they are based and their revenue.
    Broadview Networks recently decided to find out the biggest -- by revenue -- company in each state in the US.The company used the Fortune 500 list to start with, but needed data by state, so it turned to Hoover's.With data from that company, they were able to search through each state's list of companies and then find the largest -- by revenue.Just flip through the list above and see who is the biggest in each state, what town they are based and their revenue.
  • Durham mom says she didn't try to give away kids on Craigslist

    Durham mom says she didn't try to give away kids on Craigslist

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 12:48 AM EDT2014-07-23 04:48:05 GMT
    A mother of five says an ad she posted on Craigslist, in which she asked for someone to "take her five kids," was not what it seemed.
    A mother of five says an ad she posted on Craigslist, in which she asked for someone to "take her five kids," was not what it seemed.
Powered by WorldNow

1336 Augusta West Parkway
Augusta, GA 30909

Telephone: 706.722.6664
Email: talkback6@wjbf.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.