Washington Monument Leaking After Irene

After Hurricane Irene blew through over the weekend, puddles were found inside the Washington Monument Monday.

That water could indicate more cracks in the monument than previously detected, National Park Service spokesperson Carol Johnson told News4.

An outside engineering firm has been working with the Park Service to evaluate breaks in the marble structure's upper triangle in the wake of a 5.8-magnitude earthquake that shook the nation's capital Aug. 23.

A helicopter inspection following the quake revealed a 4-foot-long, inch-wide crack on one of the monument's upper triangular faces.  A follow-up evaluation detected at least two more large cracks in the monument.

Last Friday, architectural firm Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates dispatched a rope crew to the monument.  The crew installed backer rod into the crack, material that was supposed to keep water from the hurricane from seeping into the monument.

On Monday, however, more water was found inside the iconic structure, enough to pool on the interior stairway near the top of the monument, leading to questions that undiscovered cracks may have let in the rain.

"It's not of terrible concern other than it tells us we were not totally successful in our effort," National Park Service Superintendent Bob Vogel said.

WJE will release a report sometime this week with its recommendations about any necessary repairs.  Until then, there is no timetable to reopen the monument.

While it's not unusual to find moisture inside the monument, the Park Service wants to make sure it's repaired before it's reopened, News4's Jane Watrel reported.

The Park Service assured the structure is sound.

"There's been lots of reports across the country and people concerned that it was going to fall down, and our structural engineers definitely supported us in saying that it is a very solid structure and it is not going to fall down," Vogel said.

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