Sunday, September 4, 2011 by Claude "Duke" DuTeil
Earthquake... Hurricane... If we see locusts and frogs anytime soon the cathedral may be looking for a new head verger!
The Washington National Cathedral took a big hit on Aug 23, 2011 when the massive earthquake in Virginia shook the east coast. The Earthquake did millions of dollars damage to the Cathedral - pinnacles have fallen, others are turned, the central tower is severely damaged (engineers will not allow ringing of the tower bells), buttresses are cracked, stones have fallen (one punched a hole in the roof), and mortar is loose and falling. Engineers, architects, and stone masons are still inspecting so the full extent of the damage is still unknown. Fortunately hurricane Irene merely skirted DC and did not aggravate the damage to the cathedral.
A spirit of interfaith cooperation sprang to life as the cathedral has closed its Nave until at least September 9th.
- The Roman Catholic Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception opened its arms and welcomed the Cathedral to move its huge service as part of the MLK Memorial Dedication to their nave.
- St. Sophia’s Greek Orthodox Cathedral has opened up their parking lot for cathedral employees for parking.
- St. Alban’s Parish has opened up to allow weddings scheduled for the cathedral High Altar to take place in their nave.
- The senior Rabbi at Washington Hebrew Congregation called the day after the earthquake hit and offered their sanctuary for the cathedral to hold Sunday services until we are able to reopen.
This has all been a lesson in cooperation from which people on the other hill in DC might well learn.
Currently there is a fence around the cathedral that will probably be in place for a year or more as work begins to repair the towers. An inch by inch inspection is being done on the ceiling of the nave. The plan is to string mesh safety nets at the clerestory level in the nave and transepts. Once the inspection is completed and the nets are in place we likely be cleared to open the nave for services. The hope is that this will be accomplished in time for the 9/11 memorial weekend events and services to be held at the cathedral.
For additional information, pictures, and to help in the restoration of this national treasure, please seedcquake.nationalcathedral.org.