Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

December 3, 2012

No estimate on reopening Liberty Island; statue OK

(Continued)

Historical artifacts on Ellis Island also survived intact, Luchsinger said.

Luchsinger evacuated ahead of the storm and returned Oct. 30, when Liberty Island was covered with mud and debris. Hundreds of National Park Service workers from as far away as California and Alaska have spent the past month cleaning the island and assessing the damage.

Friday's tour showed there is much still to be done. The main passenger dock was splintered but usable on Friday, while an auxiliary dock in back of the island was in pieces. Generators are supplying most power on the island, though one working transformer lights the statue itself.

A water line several feet high marked the walls, and dried seaweed was still stuck in the chain-link fence.

Luchsinger, 62, has lived on Liberty Island with his wife during his 3 1/2 years as superintendent. But no more. The storm blew the doors and windows out of the low-slung brick house, and the couple lost almost everything they owned.

"I had a digital grand piano in there," Luchsinger said. "I had a whole bunch of stuff. I had a couple of my mother's antique Tiffany lamps. ... The water was about 4 1/2 to 5 feet."

The house and adjoining staff buildings on landfill behind the statue will probably be razed and not rebuilt, Luchsinger said.

"One of the things we want to do is rebuild smartly and sustainably," he said. "The buildings on the back side of the island are not sustainable. ... To rebuild and have them flooded out again doesn't make a whole lot of sense. We probably won't have anybody living on the island any more. I'm probably the last one."

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