Three Weeks After Superstorm Sandy Struck, National Parks Along Eastern Seaboard Still Digging Out

Crews continue to work to return to service units of the National Park System that were hammered by Superstorm Sandy back on October 29, with personnel coming from as far as the National Park Service's Intermountain Region to help with the cleanup.

During this past weekend, the Intermountain Incident Management Team took operational control of the Park Service’s Hurricane Sandy response efforts in the New York Harbor Area from the National Park Service Incident Management Team.

The National Park Service IMT, which was formed by the merger of the Eastern and Midwestern teams, led the planning and initial response as Hurricane Sandy made landfall. "Fresh energy and new ideas made possible by the transition to a new team will ensure the work continues to move forward safely and efficiently," the agency said in a release.

Ten of the 15 national park sites initially closed due to the hurricane reopened during the past week; areas that remain closed include some of the National Park Service’s most prominent and popular parks – the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island national monuments, Gateway National Recreation Area, and Fire Island National Seashore.

During the first 21 days of the incident, the flood waters receded and the teams made considerable progress both in caring for the needs of affected park employees and in stabilizing park resources. The road to normalcy for these parks will be a long one, though, and the NPS teams will endeavor to complete the task before them using sustainable and forward-thinking solutions, following the lead of Director Jarvis, who said last week during his address to employees on site that “we need to be thinking about how we create sustainability in all of our structures and facilities” as we respond to Hurricane Sandy.

Nearly every park and program in the system has contributed to the Sandy recovery efforts, which stretched the length of the eastern seaboard and west to the Appalachian Mountains. Parks in every region have donated people, resources, and uniforms to those affected by Hurricane Sandy personally and professionally. The dedication of all parks and the incident management teams to helping those parks affected return to fulfilling the mission of the National Park Service will continue until the work is complete.

Currently working with the team are 526 National Park Service employees from 115 National Park Service units and 44 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia, with more staff continuing to arrive.