Earthquake Aftermath, Older Structures, Churches Suffer Most Damage

The 5.8 magnitude earthquake that shook the East Coast on Tuesday afternoon has damaged older edifices in the DC area.

In particular, National Park Service officials have reported some cracks on the Washington monument. The 127-year-old structure is currently under inspection with structural engineers looking for ways to fix the cracks.

One of the most notable landmarks to suffer damage was the Washington National Cathedral. The Cathedral reported “substantial damage,” and the website shows images of a fallen statue, close-ups of a damaged pinnacle, cracked walls and buttresses among other photos.

Cathedral spokesman Richard Weinberg said in a statement about the extensive damage: “The building will retain structural integrity, but the damage to the central tower is quite significant.”

Engineers and stonemasons are working to determine a list of all the damage and the cost of the repairs. The cathedral is currently collecting donations for the repairs but it will remain closed until further notice.

Other reported damage included St. Patrick’s Church near Baltimore, St. Peter’s Catholic Church and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Culpepper, Va., close to the epicenter in Mineral, Va.

The main sanctuary built in 1821 in St. Stephen’s is currently closed. The Culpepper Star-Exponent reported that “a structural engineer would offer his assessment Wednesday.”

However, the rector of the church, Michael Gray, reminded people that although the building is damaged, at the end “The people are the church.”

He added “We are doing fine – that’s the main thing.”

Meanwhile St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, built in 1898 will be closed indefinitely. Ornamental details and the bell tower broke off and crashed on the sidewalk during the quake.

Baltimore’s Mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake stated: “We have a list of vacant buildings that are vulnerable, structurally vulnerable and our engineers are going around the city looking at those right now.”

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the earthquake was caused by a rapture of a fault near the town of Mineral, VA, approximately 100 miles southwest of Washington, DC. The USGS is asking people to report their observations during the earthquake on their website.

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