The Washington Monument, Washington National Cathedral and the Smithsonian Institution’s “Castle” also were closed as inspectors appraised the damage. An inspection Wednesday revealed additional cracks in the Washington Monument’s uppermost section, the pyramidion, and the National Park Service said it has contracted with two firms that investigate structures damaged in earthquakes.
“The Washington Monument is one of America's most important landmarks, and we will do whatever it takes to ensure that it is restored completely and correctly,” Robert A. Vogel, superintendent of the Mall, said in a statement.
The National Building Museum also was closed, forcing officials to move the opening event for the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial to the Washington Convention Center.
“It’s just surreal,” said Joe Alonso, head mason of the cathedral in Northwest Washington, as he stood 300 feet above the street on the roof of the building he has tended for nearly 30 years, surveying cracked limestone angels, toppled spires and off-kilter pillars.
In Prince George’s, county officials kept a shelter open for a second night for hundreds of people displaced by the condemnation of two earthquake-damaged apartment buildings.
Although the full cost of the damage from Tuesday’s 5.8-magnitude earthquake may not be known for days or weeks, it is expected to be high and mostly uninsured.
EQECAT, a California-based firm that helps insurance companies determine catastrophe risks, estimated that the quake, which rocked the East Coast from Georgia to Ontario, caused $200 million to $300 million in damage. Less than $100 million is insured.
Tom Larsen, a senior vice president of the company, said only 5 percent of East Coast property owners have earthquake coverage.
Government officials across the region encouraged residents to check their homes for cracks in foundations and chimneys and for leaks in gas and water lines.
Maryland, Virginia and District officials said it was too early to estimate the cost of earthquake damage.
But in the District, Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) said he is asking for $10 million in contingency funds to cover the costs of inspections and repairs. Gray said that 55 schools received some damage, including 13 that were “red-flagged” as more seriously damaged.
Late Wednesday, D.C. officials said School Without Walls would remain closed Thursday. They were also considering whether to keep Bancroft Elementary School shut for another day. Classes would resume at all other schools, they said.