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Engineers see water in Washington Monument after Irene

by Jorge Hernandez on September 1, 2011

The Washington Monument was closed indefinitely after an earthquake left the towering obelisk with cracks, and now it looks like the damage may be worse than originally thought. CNN reports that crews inspecting the monument after Hurricane Irene found puddles of standing water, which indicates there are more cracks that have yet to be identified.

The pooling was most widespread in the observatory at the top of the tower as well as in the monument's stairwell. Engineers had filled what they thought were all the holes in advance of the hurricane, but either they missed some or failed to identify them in the first place.

"There were some leaks that we were not able to identify or able to plug," National Parks Spokeswoman Carol Johnson told the news source. "What happened was a lot of mortar popped out, so much so that you can see sunlight above 450 feet in the monument."

There has been no timetable set for when, and if, the monument will reopen, but according to CNN, engineers are planning an extensive repair process. Specifically, they will have to pin the cracked stones together and replace some mortar. Still, NPS officials have not ruled out opening the monument while it is under repair.

The Washington Monument, which was completed in 1884 and stands an impressive 555 feet tall, was not the only building damaged in the August 23 earthquake that rocked much of the east coast. The Washington National Cathedral also suffered some damage when four spires cracked off the central tower. However, The Washington Post reports that it did not sustain any damage from Hurricane Irene.
 

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