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Damaged National Cathedral Hosts 'Great ShakeOut' Earthquake Drill

WASHINGTON (WJZ)—There's nothing like an earthquake to get your attention, and the large quake Maryland felt three years ago is helping to spread the word to prepare for another.

Alex DeMetrick reports it's all part of the great shakeout campaign.

Depending on where you were three years ago, experiencing a 5.8 magnitude earthquake made an impression.

And you didn't have to be scrambling out of the Washington Monument.

Maryland rocked all over.

"The Earth's crust here is old; it's cold. It transmits energy very effectively. Sort of rings like a bell," said Dr. David Applegate, U.S. Geological Survey.

And because it could ring again, the Mid-Atlantic region is now part of the Great ShakeOut.

With the National Cathedral as a backdrop, the day is used to promote "drop, cover and hold on" in a quake.

"Something as simple as a book could hurt you, or a bookshelf could hurt, so you don't want to try and run out, especially in our area here," said Wendy Phillips, FEMA program specialist.

Bricks and masonry can fall. Thousands of pounds worth fell from the top of the National Cathedral.

"Top of the tower is the absolute worst," said James Shepherd, director of preservation at the National Cathedral. "So those are the areas that really released the energy. Those are the areas we have the most damage."

Repairs made the inside safe, although work still continues at the rear of the cathedral.

Just this reinforcement effort has cost $10 million.

Another $22 million will have to be found to strengthen the structure's flying buttresses.

If it isn't done, "what that means if there's an earthquake, the stones move," Shepherd said.

While repairs may still take years, the cathedral is a reminder the next earthquake could happen any time.

"Absolutely, earthquakes have defied efforts to give a short term prediction, so an earthquake in the east, less frequent, but the shaking can be a real issue over a wide area," Applegate said.

The Great ShakeOut campaign began in California, and worldwide an estimated $25 million people, including $1 million in the Mid-Atlantic, practiced drop, cover and hold-on drills Thursday.

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