National Cathedral quake damage in millions

A damaged spire is seen at the National Cathedral following yesterday's 5.8-magnitude earthquake that struck the east coast, in Washington, D.C. on August 24, 2011. UPI/Kevin Dietsch
1 of 7 | A damaged spire is seen at the National Cathedral following yesterday's 5.8-magnitude earthquake that struck the east coast, in Washington, D.C. on August 24, 2011. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Aug. 24 (UPI) -- The National Cathedral in Washington sustained millions of dollars in damage in the earthquake that hit the U.S. East Coast, officials said Wednesday.

Officials said three of four spires topping the now-closed church's central tower lost their capstones when the 5.8-magnitude temblor stuck Tuesday, CNN reported. The Washington Times said interior upper floors and the building's flying buttresses were cracked, and decorative elements also were damaged.


But structurally, the cathedral is sound, officials said.

The damage, cathedral Dean Samuel T. Lloyd III said, is "quite serious … but certainly could have been much worse."

Insurance won't cover the repair costs.

"There's nothing in the budget that will cover this," Lloyd said, and the cathedral will "turn to people across the country" for donations.

The Washington Post reported the damage forced officials to move a Saturday service commemorating the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial from the cathedral to the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.


Some federal agencies in the Washington area were open the day after the quake, but schools and the Washington Monument were closed.

The Office of Personnel Management said federal executive branch departments and agencies were open with unscheduled leave and unscheduled telecommuting available per individual agency guidelines, the Post reported.

The U.S. Capitol and House and Senate office buildings were inspected Tuesday after the quake and reopened Wednesday, officials said.

The National Park Service said inspectors found cracking in the stones at the top of the Washington Monument, CNN reported. Engineers will determine the best way to repair cracks Wednesday.

The quake struck about 40 miles northwest of Richmond, Va., and was felt from Georgia to northern New England.

No major injuries or extensive damage were reported; however, the earthquake prompted evacuations of office buildings, closing of monuments in Washington and surrounding areas, and a Dominion Virginia Power nuclear power plant briefly lost power, and two units were shut down for a while.

The clerk of the U.S. Supreme Court, retired Army Maj. Gen. Bill Suter, told United Press International he was at the court and his wife was home in Alexandria, Va., when the quake hit, but their housekeeper was at their lake house just 5 miles from the epicenter at Mineral, Va. "We had no personal injury or property damage. The earthquake was actually mild. [My wife] and I were in the Alaska Good Friday earthquake in 1964. It measured 8.6 [in magnitude, as compared to Tuesday's 5.8], later adjusted to 9.2 That was a real earthquake.


"I should add that Supreme Court personnel reacted [Tuesday] with calm and discipline."

The earthquake, unusual for the East Coast, left many people wondering what caused the ground to shake, CNN reported.

Kate Duddy was alone in a New York office building elevator when the shaking started, CNN said.

"I have never felt a quake before. It was scary having no idea what the cause was," she said. "I felt the vibrations and the elevator stopped for a period of about 5 minutes."

On the West Coast, a 3.6-magnitude earthquake shook the San Francisco area Tuesday. That quake's center was about 4 miles northeast of San Leandro and felt throughout the region, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or major damage, law enforcement agencies said.

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