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Security Video: Washington Monument Earthquake (National Park Service Camera)

Mon September 26 2011 9:43 pm
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Security footage released by the National Park Service from the 500 foot level. The ranger at the top guides visitors to the emergency exit door on the 490 level, which opens inward, and then returns to the 500 level to ensure that all visitors are out. (No Audio)

During the 2011 Virginia Earthquake on August 23, 2011, the monument suffered structural damage, and is currently closed to the public indefinitely.

A National Park Service spokesperson reported that inspectors discovered a crack near the top of the structure, and later discovered “several additional cracks”, including “three or four ‘significant’ ones”, in the monument’s pyramidion (the pyramidal shape atop the monument, which includes the observation deck). A block in the pyramidion was also partially dislodged, and pieces of stone, stone chips, mortar, and paint chips came free of the monument and “littered” the interior stairs and observation deck. Some of that debris falling is visible from the security video images.

A more detailed five-day inspection is scheduled to start tomorrow, when Denali National Park ranger Brandon Latham is expected to rappell down the side of the monument to further inspect the exterior. Latham will be assisted by four climbers belonging to a “difficult access” team from Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates.

When Hurricane Irene hit the Washington D.C. area on August 27, water was discovered inside the Washington Monument, leading the National Park Service to suspect there was yet more undiscovered damage.

The Washington Monument underwent an extensive restoration project between 1998 and 2001, when it was completely covered in scaffolding. The project included cleaning, repairing and repointing the monument’s exterior and interior stonework at a cost of $10.5 million.

From September 7, 2004 until April 1, 2005; the Washington Monument was closed during a $15 million security and landscaping renovation.

Tremors from the Virginia earthquake were felt as far west as Illinois, as far south as Atlanta, Georgia; and as far north as Quebec City, Quebec.

The epicenter of the earthquake was in Louisa County, Virginia, where damage was greatest and several minor injuries occurred. The town of Mineral, located 5 mi from the earthquake’s epicenter, reported the collapse of two buildings, as well as minor damage to several other structures. The ceiling collapsed at the Town Hall in Mineral, Virginia. Several minor injuries were reported in Mineral, and some people reported chest pain after the shock and stress associated with the experience.

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