Intrepid To Reopen Following Sandy

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The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum is working to reopen this week for the first time since Sandy hit. The museum, which is based on a retired aircraft carrier anchored on Manhattan's West Side, sustained heavy damage to its Welcome Center and the electrical systems on its pier.

Sandy's storm surge caused flooding in the museum's Welcome Center on Pier 86, which also houses the museum's power system, back-up generator, fire safety system and retail store. The pier was built just four years ago for the 100-year flood level, but Sandy's surge brought 4 to 6 feet above that level. 

"We will open and our Welcome Center will still be closed, because that which was our ticketing area and our retail store and one of our cafe areas had that 4 to 6 feet of water in it as well," said museum president Susan Marenoff-Zausner. "So, that had to be ripped out inside and we'll have to rebuild that."

Visitors will have access to almost all of the Intrepid Museum's exhibits when it opens on Friday. According to Marenoff-Zausner, the Intrepid aircraft carrier itself is absolutely sound, as is the Growler submarine moored along side it. Also, the Concorde perched on the museum flight deck was not damaged. 

The one exhibit that won't be available to visitors for a while is the new Space Shuttle pavilion. The inflatable structure that protected the shuttle and its related displays collapsed when the museum's back-up generators failed due to flooding. Also, Space Shuttle Enterprise sustained a little damage to its vertical stabilizer. The shuttle pavilion is expected to re-open in the spring.

The museum is still tallying up the damage to its facilities. Marenoff-Zausner expects it will total in the seven-figures, which includes both the initial clean-up of debris on the pier and remediation.

"Our fire pumps had to be taken out and be restored," she said. "Our boilers had to be refurbished and fixed. Our electrical wiring had to be cleaned and had to be dried, and had to be baked and had to be tested. And, so that's the process that we've been going through for the past six weeks."

The effects of Sandy are not only affecting the rebuilding effort. The museum has been planning to build a new Space Center that will be the permanent home of Shuttle Enterprise and the museum's president says officials are factoring in the possibility of Sandy-caliber storms into its future planning, as well.

"I think everybody is looking towards how do you rebuild and make sure that anything that could get damaged in something like this would not happen again," said Marenoff-Zausner. "So, we'll be raising where we have certain electrical systems and things of that nature and so, that's got to be in the plan going forward.  You don't want to rebuild and have the exact same thing happen."