Reporting Kai Jackson
WASHINGTON (WJZ)– Seven months after an unexpected earthquake shook the East Coast, two national treasures are still in bad shape. The Washington Monument and the National Cathedral both have major structural damage.
Kai Jackson explains big steps are being taken to save the landmarks but they come at a price.
The Washington Monument is majestic and towers over the District of Columbia, yet last August, this iconic American symbol and its occupants were rattled.
“It was absolutely terrifying. It was shaking so violently—to have the mortar falling on your head, the fear was so high, I was sure we were under attack. I didn’t realize at first it was an earthquake,” said U.S. Park Ranger Nicolette Williams.
It was a 5.8 magnitude earthquake. Engineers dangling from ropes found structural damage. Now experts are using metal survey discs on the ground to see if the monument has tilted. If it has, they believe the tilt is minimal.
“From what we’re seeing, we’ve got differences in that area of two to three millimeters and that’s just a preliminary evaluation. It potentially could tilt, absolutely,” said David Doyle, National Geodetic Survey.
Engineers say the weight of a building can cause it to settle or require repairs. Experts now believe the monument has had minor sinking.
“Yes, we do see this general settlement, but it’s very small. Since it was finished in 1884, it has settled, about 5.2 centimeters or roughly about two inches,” Doyle said.
The historic and famous National Cathedral was also damaged during the quake. Repairs will cost an estimated $20 million but the church’s operating budget is only $13 million.
Geologists say the monument sits on land that was once a swamp.