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National Cathedral gets safety nets; 9/11 events will go on

September 1, 2011 |  4:06 pm

National Cathedral

The National Cathedral in Washington, which suffered sizable damage in last week’s magnitude 5.8 earthquake, is being equipped with safety nets to allow commemorations for the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks to go on as planned.

The cathedral has been closed to the public since the quake, and services have been held elsewhere.

The black, tightly woven nets will be stretched over the upper-most level of stained-glass windows in the main sanctuary and serve as a precaution against falling mortar chips, many of which shook loose during the temblor.

The quake’s impact was more visible on the cathedral’s exterior, particularly to the building’s spires and flying buttresses.

Despite all the damage, “the engineers tell us with confidence that the building is structurally sound,” said cathedral spokesman Richard Weinberg in an interview with The Times.

With safety nets in place, the cathedral will host a weekend of events marking the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, starting with a concert on Sept. 9, at which Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will speak. President Obama will speak at a Sunday event. 

The nets allow the cathedral to open in the immediate future, but Weinberg said the repairs would be a lengthy process.

“The cost of all the repairs is going to be in the millions of dollars,” he said. “This is going to be a multiple-year effort.”


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-- Melanie Mason

Photo: Workers erect scaffolding and nets Thursday in the National Cathedral in Washington. Credit: Chip Somodevilla /Getty Images