Statue Of Liberty To Reopen By July 4

The Statue of LibertyEarlier this week, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that the Statue of Liberty will reopen to visitors this summer just in time to celebrate America’s birthday. The iconic statue, and the island it sits on, suffered damage during Hurricane Sandy in October but is now on track to return to service by July 4, 2013.

During the mega-storm that engulfed the East Coast last year, Liberty Island suffered considerable amounts of damage due to the high winds, excessive rain and flooding. Salazar indicated that Sandy managed to not only destroy the docks that grant access to the island, but also knocked out the security screening system and power grid as well. And while damage to the statue itself was minimal, railings and sidewalks crumbled, buildings were submerged under water and boilers were destroyed.

Finding sources of funding to make the repairs has become a bit of a challenge, especially in the wake of sequestration budget cuts. But the Statue is one of the top tourist attractions in all of New York City, attracting 3.7 million visitors in 2011. That means it is a revenue generator that the local economy will be happy to have back in operation for the busy summer months.

The exact date of the reopening hasn’t been determined yet, but Salazar said more information will be coming soon. He did want to stress, however, that Statue will be in tip-top shape in time for annual Independence Day celebrations. Nearby Ellis Island won’t quite be so lucky, however, as there has been no time table set for its reopening at this time.

[Photo Credit: National Park Service]

Video Of The Day: Rockaway Beach, 3 Months After Sandy

Rockaway Beach, NY, Three Months After Sandy, GH2 &100-300mm” from David Whalen on Vimeo.

I wanted to go to Rockaway Beach last week, but I went to Coney Island instead. I was just looking for a nice and cold walk on the beach with my dogs, but I wasn’t sure what sort of shape Rockaway was in since being devastated by Hurricane Sandy. While preparing to make another chilly run to the beach with my dogs today, I found this video taken less than two weeks ago of Rockaway Beach. The creator of the film, David Whalen of La Mancha Media documents the damage that still exists in Rockaway today. Rockaway is still visibly damaged from Sandy. Here’s to keeping the community of Rockaway in our thoughts as they continue to rebuild.

Sandy Day 3: The Latest

Video: NYC Dark

For anyone who saw it, a dark version of Manhattan was, if nothing else, different. It was spooky for some and plain frightening for others, but no matter what, it was new. The darkness that blanketed the city during and after Hurricane Sandy dressed Lower Manhattan in a stillness not usually seen within the city. Thanks to Laughing Squid, I saw this video, which captures the experience of city blackness with excellent footage and narration. Titled “NYC Dark,” this collaboration between Jared Levy, Michael Marantz and Already Alive is a good one worth watching.Poor Communication Leaves Hoboken, New Jersey Voters Discouraged at Polls Following Hurricane Sandy

Photo Gallery: Hurricane Sandy Damage In Brooklyn

Since Hurricane Sandy first hit the East Coast, photos of the devastating damage have headlined media outlets. Entire communities were lost to this storm, blocks were burned, Lower Manhattan was flooded and lives were lost. Red Hook, Brooklyn, was flooded with 5+ feet, destroying neighborhood homes and businesses. Photographer Ben Britz and I ventured out the day after the storm and collected these photos from Red Hook, Sunset Park and Greenwood Heights in Brooklyn. While the damage we saw didn’t hold a flame to the worst of it, this gallery aims to provide a glimpse into what life in some areas of Brooklyn looked like the day after the storm.

[Photo Credit: Elizabeth Seward]

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Nor'easter Storm Threatens New York as Areas Begin to Flood Again Just After Hurricane Sandy

Airbnb Offers Free Housing For Victims Of Hurricane Sandy

Last week, thousands of residents along the East Coast had their homes destroyed or were left without electricity and heat by Hurricane Sandy. This week brought yet another injustice as a vicious Nor’easter storm bearing snow and frigid temperatures left victims scrambling for shelter. That’s why we were heartened to hear about a just-announced partnership between NYC.gov and apartment rental service Airbnb to coordinate free housing for New York area storm victims.

Since the storm hit New York and New Jersey last Monday, Airbnb has seen a surge in last-minute bookings in storm-affected areas like Atlantic City, New York City and the Hamptons. As a result of the surge, Airbnb announced it was partnering with NYC.gov to waive all fees for all Sandy victims looking for shelter on the service and put in a new call for generous New Yorkers with extra space to donate extra rooms and couches to those in need.

Airbnb is one of several services that let savvy apartment owners make money off their unused space, but what sets them apart is the site’s emphasis on community. Rather than just a place to rent apartments, the site’s users can now help displaced New York, New Jersey and Connecticut residents find help in a time of need. We hope more travel brands will look to this example and continue to encourage this kind of generosity and community among members.

[Photo credit: Randy Le’Moine Photography]