WASHINGTON (WJZ)– A major operation to save the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. badly damaged by the earthquake in August is underway.

Kai Jackson explains the dangerous steps it is going to take to make the cathedral safe again.

It is a delicate operation, yet engineers and stone masons say they’re making significant progress in repairing the National Cathedral.

It was a job shrouded not in secrecy, but fog.

A massive and a barely visible crane lifts and lowers, parts of a pinnacle at the top of the National Cathedral in Northwest Washington. The stone was damaged during the August earthquake.

“The structure of the cathedral did OK in the quake, but again, as everything shook and all that energy went up, it ended up in those slender pinnacles,” Joe Alonso, head mason at the National Cathedral, said.

The pieces are from the central tower. Engineers say they weigh two tons. The earthquake shifted them 8.5 inches off their base. Removing them is a delicate job. But the real work begins when the heavy objects are on the ground.

“There’s a lot of assessing to do now– which ones I can save, which ones I can repair here, which ones will have to be recut completely new,” Alonso said.

Another of Washington’s most recognizable symbols was also damaged in the earthquake– the Washington Monument.

Those repairing the cathedral say the same engineers who inspected the monument will look at the cathedral.

“The rappelers are going to be here next week, rappelling off the west front,” Mason said. “The guys who did the Washington Monument are going to be at the west front of the cathedral looking at the carved piece of stone.”

The National Cathedral has been the location for most of the funeral services for U.S. presidents since 1893.

The cathedral is scheduled to reopen in November.


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