National Cathedral earthquake repairs to top $26 million

WASHINGTON (WJLA) -- The cost to repair the earthquake-damaged National Cathedral now stands at $26 million, which is $6 million more than initially estimated.

From 60 feet up inside the Washington National Cathedral, you get a remarkable view of the Gothic church’s vaulted ceiling. This will be the focal point of repairs on the 83-year-old cathedral for the next 18 months.

The nation’s house of worship was damaged two years ago by a 5.8-magnitude earthquage. To date, $3 million have been spent, so if it’s a $26 million project, workers still have a very long way to go.

Scaffolding remains outside the church to stabilize parts of the damaged structure, while inside netting has been hung to protect visitors while the ceiling is repaired. Though it might be hard to see from far away, there are hairline cracks and loose bits of mortar that will be worked on.

A group visiting from St. Louis got a behind-the-scene tour at the Cathedral, and also had the chance to see some of the damage up close.

"It did a considerable amount of damage inside and that was really surprising given that the epicenter was so far away," said visitor Tyna Elbe.

The building itself must be an extremely well-built structure to have suffered the damage that it did and that it wasn't more extensive," added Kari Saunder.

The Cathedral has so far raised $10 million towards repairs, including $5 million from the Lilly Endowment, Inc.

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