Last week’s magnitude 5.8 earthquake that shook the Washington DC area appears to have caused more damage to the Washington Monument than originally thought. Engineers have discovered standing water in the memorial after Hurricane Irene dumped a great deal of rain in the area.
Cracks as long as four feet long, dislodged blocks and some fallen debris were seen immediately following the temblor. The monument was closed while engineers evaluated the structure.
As Hurricane Irene bore down on the East Coast, the U.S. National Parks Service (NPS) hastily conducted temporary repairs to prevent further damage. Standing water has been found in the base of the structure and engineers are trying to find the source fearing there is additional, unseen damage.
- In pictures: See the damage to the Washington Monument
Architectural firm Wiss, Janney, Elsner Associates (WJE) is evaluating the structure and will release a report this week detailing what repairs need to be made to restore the iconic structure. The parks service said they have no timetable as to when the monument will be open to the public.
The Washington Monument is arguably the most prominent and significant structure in Washington DC. Built to honor the nation’s first president, the obelisk was finished in 1884 and stands more than 555 feet tall. It is the tallest building in the nation’s capital and the tallest stone structure in the world.
The earthquake which damaged the monument is thought to have been responsible for total losses up to $300 million in damage. It was felt across a dozen states and was the largest temblor east of the Rocky Mountains since 1897.
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