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Quake repairs to be expensive

Hundreds of apartment dwellers homeless in Maryland after buildings condemned

BY JIM SKILLINGTON | BALTIMORE | August 24, 2011

Major churches, apartment buildings and schools were amongst the structures damaged or destroyed in Tuesday's Virginia earthquake. Damage estimates now exceed $300 million and may go higher, only a small percentage of which is expected to be covered by insurance.

It was the second strongest earthquake in Virginia's history and the largest quake to hit the state in more than 100 years. The shocks from the 5.8-magnitude quake were felt from Georgia to Michigan.

While many people in the region went back to work or school Wednesday, some federal buildings around Washington and schools near the central Virginia epicenter of the quake remained closed.

In the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., hundreds of residents of two condemned apartment complexes were temporarily residing in an emergency shelter.

A number of churches were also damaged by the 5.8-magnitude earthquake that hit shortly before 2 PM Tuesday. The most notable churches that were initially found to have been damaged were the Washington National Cathedral and St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Baltimore.

A spokesperson for the National Cathedral said Wednesday that the church had sustained millions of dollars in damages as three of the four spires in the central tower lost their capstones and interior and upper floors as well as the building's flying buttresses were cracked. The cathedral will be closed through Saturday.

The damage, cathedral Dean Samuel T. Lloyd III said, is "quite serious but certainly could have been much worse."

Insurance is not available to cover the repair costs and the Cathedral's Website was already inviting online donations Wednesday.

"There's nothing in the budget that will cover this," Lloyd said, and the cathedral will "turn to people across the country" for donations.

Minor damage was reported at the Mormon Temple in Kensington, MD, where the gold spires are a landmark for Washington Beltway commuters.

Parishioners of St. Patrick Catholic Church in the Fells Point area of Baltimore will need to attend neighboring churches at least through September as the Baltimore Archdiocese determines how to repair earthquake damages to that historic church. Pieces of stone fell from the steeple to the sidewalk and other cracks in the building were reported.

The U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis reported minor damage to buildings on its campus. Hundreds of homes reported damages to chimneys and minor wall cracks.

In the District of Columbia, the Washington Monument will remain closed until engineers are able to determine the best way to repair the building. Inspectors found granite stones near the top of the monument were cracked as a result of the earthquake.

In neighboring Prince Georges County, Maryland, school was closed Wednesday to allow inspections and 32-schools will remain closed Thursday because of safety concerns. Nearly all of the District's schools will reopen Thursday.

The town of Mineral, Va., within 10 miles of the epicenter of the shallow earthquake, will have to build a new municipal center. The Town Hall, was destroyed by the quake.


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