EARTHQUAKE

National Cathedral damage assessed

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Structural engineers and stone masons toured the National Cathedral Wednesday to assess the damage from yesterday's historic earthquake.

The 5.8 tremblor shook several of the finials off the central tower of the century old gothic church.

While a small amount of debris fell to the ground 30 stories below, much of it was contained on the roof of the tower. Several of the spires were also shifted or twisted by the quake.

Some who have worked at the Cathedral for decades are still in shock that the stone structure could crumble in just seconds.

Cathedral Mason Joseph Alonso said there is a "massive amount of work" to be done to fix this damage.

“This is unbelievable,” Alonso said. “We've got serious work now to get up here and move these stones and get them off here.”

The majority of the damage is to several of the decorative finials that are on the Cathedral's central tower. Some of them are 50 years old.

The Cathedral's mason says it will take years and millions of dollars to make the building whole again.The damage isn't covered by insurance.

Still the church's spiritual leader is trying to remain positive.

"The good news this was not devastating,” said Dean Samuel Lloyd. “It was quite serious and there's some very important things we're going to have to deal with, but it could have been a lot worse.”

The church remains wrapped in yellow caution tape and disappointed visitors are being turned away and will be until at least Saturday.

The Washington National Cathedral is an Episcopal Church landmark in the capital.

Located in the northwest quadrant of the city near foreign embassies and the vice president's residence, the gothic-like structure is among the tallest in the city.

It's historically been the site of funerals and memorials for presidents and statesmen

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