The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

July 4, 2013

Statue of Liberty officially reopens for July 4th

NEW YORK (AP) — The Statue of Liberty finally reopened on the Fourth of July months after Superstorm Sandy swamped its little island in New York Harbor as Americans across the country marked the holiday with fireworks and barbecues.

A large crowd gathered for the holiday and ribbon-cutting ceremony at Liberty Island with federal officials and New York's mayor. Lines stretched blocks long for the boat, which left from Battery Park in Manhattan starting at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

Rodney and Judy Long, of Charlotte, N.C., were the first people in line for the boat called Lady Liberty. They couldn't get tickets to climb up to the top of the statue, but they were just glad to be there for the big reopening, they said.

"It's perfect timing for it to reopen. It's really a symbol for what the country is all about," Rodney Long said.

Some repairs to brick walkways and docks are still underway, but much of work has been completed since Sandy swamped most of the 12 acres of the national landmark.

The statue was spared in the fall storm, but Lady Liberty's island took a serious beating. Railings broke, docks and paving stones were torn up and buildings were flooded. The storm destroyed electrical systems, sewage pumps and boilers. Hundreds of National Park Service workers from as far away as California and Alaska spent weeks cleaning mud and debris.

Visitors to Lady Liberty went through security on lower Manhattan after city officials criticized an earlier plan to screen them at neighboring Ellis Island, which endured far worse damage to its infrastructure and won't be open to the public anytime soon. The damage to both islands was $59 million.

In Arizona, sober tributes were planned for 19 firefighters who died this week battling a blaze near Yarnell. Boston prepared to host its first large gathering since the marathon bombing that killed three and injured hundreds, and Philadelphia, Washington and New Orleans planned large holiday concerts.

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