As if the damage to the Washington Monument after the hurricane wasn't enough, Hurricane Irene left behind water puddled inside the iconic structure's interior.
The water could indicate more cracks in the monument than were previously detected, Park Service spokesperson Carol Johnson told NBC's News 4 in Washington.
Since the 5.8 earthquake hit the nation's capital on Aug. 23, an engineering firm has been working with the Park Service to evaluate breaks in the marble structures upper triangle, including a four-foot-long fissure in the triangular-shaped cap at the top.
A follow-up evaluation conducted by architectural firm Wiss, Janney, Elsner Associates detected at least three more large cracks in the monument. Initially, the monument was closed right after the earthquake struck. It is now closed indefinitely.
We have to let the structural engineers do their job. That may take a week to 10 days, said Parks Spokesman Bill Line. It may take a week or two after that point for them to pull things together and write a report that documents the amount of damage done, and to make recommendations. The Park Service will have to evaluate that.
Three of four spires on the National Cathedral also suffered damage, as the tremors snapped off stones from the ornate structure. The cathedral is an icon of the Gothic style, and is one of the largest cathedrals in the world.
While Line said he knows that visitors to the nation's capital love to view the city from atop the monument -- and that hundreds of thousands of visitors are due this weekend for the dedication of the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial -- he said the service can't take any chances with safety.
It's impossible to say how long repairs will take to complete. Then we'll have to have repairs inspected and certified, Lane said. I know we live in this instantaneous world where everything is expected to happen instantly, but we have to be correct.