EARTHQUAKE

Hurricane Irene: Washington Monument cracks exposed by heavy rains

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Hurricane Irene may have helped the National Park Service evaluate damage to the Washington Monument.

A four-foot crack in the Washington Monument opened up after Tuesday's earthquake. (Photo: Associated Press)

Last Tuesday's earthquake left several cracks in the monument, including a four-foot crack near the top. Federal News Radio reports that after workers filled them with what they thought was a special, waterproof material.

However, after the storm passed through on Saturday and Sunday, engineers found a significant amount of water inside, NPS spokespeople say.

“We would expect some moisture, but we did have quite a bit more than we would normally expect, which I think tells us there is some additional cracks that we haven't located yet,” said Bob Vogel, superintendent of the National Mall and Memorial Parks.

While the monument remains closed, engineers say it is structurally sound.

Diana and Lloyd Witherow's scheduled trip to the top today will have to wait. Though disappointed, Lloyd Witherow says “we’ll get over it.” The Bourne family from Atlanta feels similarly.

“If they have to close it, they have to close for public safety," David Bourne said.

The park service is waiting on an engineering report to plan repairs. However, there is no timeline or cost estimate for the repair of the iconic structure.

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