published Friday, August 26th, 2011

Quake, hurricane: Nature's one-two punch

While we in the Chattanooga area are enjoying our accustomed hot, clear summer weather, some parts of the Caribbean have been enduring a hurricane, and millions of Americans remain shaken after an earthquake that was centered in Virginia.

Hurricane Irene has swept from the Bahamas and is projected to approach the North Carolina coast by Saturday.

But it could strike any portion of the East Coast, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was urging residents of his huge city to make preparations.

Meanwhile millions of people — from Georgia to Canada — felt an earthquake on Tuesday. It was said to have been the strongest shaking on our East Coast since World War II.

The quake, of 5.8 magnitude, reportedly created a crack atop the famed 555-foot-tall Washington Monument in the District of Columbia.

The monument had to be closed to the public after the quake, denying tourists access until the extent of the damage can be investigated and any needed repairs can be made.

Damage also was reported at the Washington National Cathedral, though it was fortunately limited to “decorative elements,” The Associated Press reported. Some stones on the spires broke off, and repairs to the impressive structure will undoubtedly be expensive.

Considering the strength of the quake, however, it is remarkable that there were not reports of deaths or serious injuries.

We hope, in the coming days, that any human tragedies from Hurricane Irene will be similarly limited.

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