U.S. Capitol Weathers DC’s Devastating Storm

Jul 2, 2012 11:56am
ap washington storm capitol ll 120702 wblog U.S. Capitol Weathers DCs Devastating Storm

Image credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Photo

While Washington cleans up this morning after Friday night’s severe weather, one of the oldest and most historic buildings in the nation’s capital appears to have escaped relatively unscathed: the U.S. Capitol.

A spokeswoman for the Architect of the Capitol tells ABC News that there were no reports of damage to the Capitol or any other buildings throughout the 274-acre Capitol campus, which also includes the Supreme Court of the United States. Most of the storm’s wrath was suffered by trees, although none of the damaged ones were memorial trees.

“We had some minor tree damage, a few suffered from broken limbs, but our folks had things cleaned up by Sunday morning,” Eva Malecki, communications officer for the AOC, wrote in an email. “No other damages reported.”

According to the AOC, about 4,200 trees adorn the grounds of the Capitol. About 150 trees are memorial trees, planted by a member of Congress. Last June, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi planted an American Red Oak on the Southwest Drive of the Capitol in honor of Rep. John Murtha, a Democrat from Pennsylvania who passed away in February 2010.

Malecki said the first memorial tree is believed to have been planted before 1800 in honor of George Washington, but since records are lacking it’s unclear if that tree is still around.

“There was no record of the date/placement of the [President Washington] tree. Just that there was one planted,” she said. “The concept of ‘memorial trees’ as we recognize them today didn’t really become official until the early 1900s.”

The trees, many marked by plaques that identify their species and historical significance, are planted to “commemorate members of Congress and other notable citizens, national organizations and special events,” according to the AOC. More than 30 states have made symbolic gifts of their state trees to the Capitol grounds as well.

The storm packed 60-80 mph winds and ripped through the sweltering Washington region late Friday night, killing at least six people in Virginia, two in Maryland and one in DC. Most of the deaths were caused by trees falling on cars and homes, according to the AP.

Get more pure politics at ABC News.com/Politics and a lighter take on the news at OTUSNews.com

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