By Katie Reilly
NEW YORK (Reuters) - More than 200 artifacts telling stories of early 20th century immigrants to the United States will be returned to New York's Ellis Island immigration museum on Thursday following repairs needed after Superstorm Sandy in 2012, federal officials said.
About half the items in the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration, including children's shoes, steamship tickets and passports, were removed as a precaution while its mechanical and electrical systems underwent $39.4 million in repairs, National Park Service officials said on Wednesday.
Superstorm Sandy hit New York and New Jersey in October 2012, killing more than 100 people and causing billions of dollars in damage to power, transportation and water facilities.
Ellis Island, in New York Harbor, is home to the federal immigration station through which more than 12 million immigrants passed from 1892 to 1954.
The museum and historic buildings were mostly undamaged, but the storm destroyed the island's electrical, communication, water and sewage systems. The repair work ensures that the infrastructure will be unaffected by any future flooding.
None of the artifacts were damaged because floodwater never reached the first floor.
"Up to this point, it has been disappointing for some of our visitors to come into the museum and see that a good bit of the exhibits did not have the artifacts in them," said Jerry Willis, a spokesman for the National Park Service.
The items were kept in storage during the repair work.
"These personal artifacts, many donated by individual families from across the country, truly bring the immigrant experience to life," said Stephen Briganti, president and chief executive of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation Inc.
Installation of the artifacts will begin on Sept. 16 and is expected to be completed by early October.
(Reporting by Katie Reilly; Editing by Scott Malone and Eric Walsh)