Being ready for Mother Nature’s wrath is part of what it means to live in Oklahoma.
It’s common for people to build storm shelters to provide protection from severe weather and tornadoes, or buy insurance to cover damage left behind by hail, high-wind damage, twisters, floods, and now, earthquakes.
The largest earthquake ever recorded in the state in November 2011 destroyed 14 homes, buckled roads, and created shock waves felt as far away as Milwaukee, Wis.
Residents in Cherokee County felt the magnitude 5.7 earthquake, as well as the 4.7 fore- and aftershock. At the time, earthquake insurance became a topic of interest and continues to pique some inquiry whenever earthquake activity is reported.
One local insurance company told the Daily Press two years ago it received several calls about earthquake insurance following the series of temblors near Prague, Okla. The endorsement has been available for some time, but its consideration by homeowners only began with the recent earthquake activity, said State Farm agent/owner Mark Hodson.
“It has gotten a lot more attention because of what we’ve experienced,” Hodson said. “There is more awareness now, and more people are adding [earthquake insurance] to their policies. It’s available as an endorsement to the homeowner policies.”
A recently-released geological study suggests oil and gas production may have contributed to the 2011 earthquake, and researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey, Columbia University and the University of Oklahoma believe injection wells used for wastewater disposal may have led to the series of quakes that centered on Prague.
The study proposed the brine- and chemical-laced water injected into the abandoned wells, which were once filled with oil, increased pressure on a nearby fault line identified as the Wilzetta Fault, or Seminole Uplift. The Oklahoma Geological Survey reported the interpretation that best fits current data is that the Prague Earthquake Sequence was the result of natural causes.
The earthquakes occurred on a segment of the Wilzetta Fault, which is favorable to significant tremors. Water injection has been taking place in the Prague/Wilzetta area since 1955, and has remained constant since an increase of activity in 2004-2005. Researchers said the earthquake activity did not increase over time as injection activity increased, but occurred in a distinct “swarm” more typical of a natural event, according to the OGS.
As differing opinions exist, the OGS, as well as the study, recommend more research, improved earthquake monitoring, and acquisition of formation pressure data, as well as careful monitoring in regions where injection wells exist.
The recent controversy is actually over disposal of produced water, said OGS Seismologist Austin Holland.
“That is naturally occurring formation water that is removed from the ground along with the oil and disposed of within disposal wells. I think the majority of water disposed of in Oklahoma is from produced water,” said Holland. “There have been examples of earthquakes large enough to have been felt, but none with damage associated with hydraulic fracturing. These occurrences are rare.”
Though the debate continues in Oklahoma, not every homeowner is concerned with the need to insure property against damage created by manmade or naturally-occurring earthquakes. Bardell & Bardell Insurance Agency Marketing Manager M.T. Smith said people don’t seem to be particularly concerned with earthquake insurance.
“We’ve not had anyone calling specifically for earthquake insurance,” he said. “We can get you coverage, but it’s best to go where you have your homeowner’s policy.”
Farmers Insurance agent owner Donald Brown hasn’t received any customers seeking coverage for earthquake protection, either.
“Yes, we offer it, and no, we haven’t had any inquiries,” he said.
Shelter Insurance agent owner Waco Howard said people inquire about earthquake insurance whenever there’s reported activity in the Oklahoma City area.
“I think we’ve had a pretty good-sized tremor every month in the past few months. We always see an influx of calls right after every event,” he said. “We have more people buying it. The cost is going to be based on the value of the dwelling. On my house, I pay $42 a year, and that’s with a 5 percent deductible. That’s on a $150,000 dwelling. It’s really inexpensive, and it’s something everybody should have. I don’t know of anyone who has ever filed a claim, but that’s not to say it hasn’t happened.”
Being ready for Mother Nature’s wrath is part of what it means to live in Oklahoma.
- Local News
Foster mom denied bond in child’s death
A 47-year-old woman arrested Tuesday night for the alleged murder of a 2-year-old girl was jailed in 2011 for wielding a knife during an argument over aluminum cans, and several agencies are reviewing the decision to allow the woman to be a foster parent.
Investigators on Wednesday continued their search for information into the death of Alysa Horney, who was found unresponsive at the Woodall home of her foster mother, Delila Pacheco, Sunday morning.
Pacheco, 47, appeared in front of Associate District Judge Mark Dobbins Wednesday morning and was denied bond a day after her arrest for first-degree murder.
Cherokee County Undersheriff Jason Chennault said investigators discovered the toddler had minor visible bruises on her body Sunday morning, when deputies and EMS were called to the home.
Getting in compliance
During harsh winter weather, such as Cherokee County has experienced during the past week, concerns are often raised about the plight of people living in substandard housing. In Tahlequah, the situation has been compounded by the recent controversy over a rooming house where a child died last month.
Recently, the city of Tahlequah has begun to closely scrutinize homes that may not be up to code, and officials could decide to take action during 2014.
Pair helping former Stepping Stone residents
Christmas is a time for “peace on Earth and good will toward men,” and two local woman are putting the adage into practice by helping a group of recently displaced Tahlequah residents.
Denise LaGrand and Toni Bailey have volunteered within the community for years, but when the Stepping Stone Rooming House closed abruptly, LaGrand was spurred into action by others’ attitudes toward the evicted residents.
New pizza, liquor businesses in Tahlequah
Though the holiday season is usually a slow time for new business openings, a few new ventures are now welcoming customers in Tahlequah.
Recently opened businesses include J&L’s NYC Hot Dogs, Rum Runners liquor store, The Taco Truck and Pendleton’s Barbecue and Pizza.
Music to their ears
Local musicians looking for a chance to perform band music with fellow players are invited to join a group at Northeastern State University.
The Communiversity Band is a concert ensemble composed of NSU students and members of the Tahlequah community, and there is still time to get involved.
Hand-crafted ornaments, holiday gifts mean the most
For families on tight budgets, Christmas gift-giving means advanced planning and thinking outside the box. Often some of the most cherished gifts are those made by hand.
People looking to exercise their creative side this year need only look as far as Pinterest, according to Heather Winn, family and consumer science educator for the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service.
Cherokee County foster mother arrested for murder of 2-year-old
Investigators have arrested a 47-year-old foster mother for first-degree murder in the death of a 2-year-old girl Sunday morning.
Delila A. Pacheco was arrested and transported to the Cherokee County Detention Center at about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to Cherokee County Undersheriff Jason Chennault.
Pacheco is accused of killing 2-year-old Alysa Horney.
Ki Bois to offer services for veterans, families
In an effort to assist some of the area’s neediest veterans, the Ki Bois Community Action Foundation recently announced the startup of its Supportive Services for Veterans Families program.
Ki Bois will hold a grand opening ceremony Thursday, Dec. 12 from 1-3 p.m. at the Muskogee office, 421 N. Broadway St.
However, Ki Bois began actual administration in its area of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs program Dec. 1. Funding is through the Veterans Administration, and Cherokee County veterans will also be served.
Roads get help from Mother Nature
Cherokee County commissioners were pleased to see the sun and rising temperatures help melt away some of the muck left along area roads Tuesday.
All of that melting is sure to leave some slick spots in the overnight and early morning hours for the next several days, but conditions are expected to improve.
Braving the cold
Though the weekend weather made travel difficult, the Snowflake ice rink still attracted plenty of skaters who wanted to spend time outdoors, balancing on blades.
The closing of Tahlequah Public Schools and other Cherokee County schools Monday created another skating opportunity, but there were only a couple of teen skaters on the ice at 3 p.m. Monday, braving the cold.
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