Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

April 2, 2013

Whole lot of shakin’ goin’ on?

TAHLEQUAH — 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.”

Text Only
Local News
  • Easter-basket-kid.jpg Easter traditions date back centuries

    Some Christians may lament a partial shift of focus, but a Christian holy day - perhaps the most holy of all – is this Sunday, and it will be marked with celebrations all around the world.
    The Christian holiday of Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. For centuries, the observant have fasted, reflected or done penance in the weeks leading to the holiday. But today, many also associate the holiday with the Easter bunny, candy, and kites. In 2013, Americans spent $2.1 billion on Easter candy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Some oppose minimum wage hike; others decry strong-arming by state

    President Barack Obama and the U.S. Senate recently announced a push to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour, to $10.10. On the heels of the announcement, an initiative petition was introduced in Oklahoma City to raise the minimum wage to the suggested $10.10. If it gained 80,000 signatures, it would be put to a vote of the people.
    This legislative session, a bill passed prohibiting municipalities from setting a minimum was or vacation and sick-day requirements. Gov. Mary Fallin signed the bill into law earlier this week.

    April 18, 2014

  • Phone scam takes $500 from couple

    Authorities are warning Cherokee County residents to watch for a costly phone scam that recently targeted a local couple and ended in their loss of $500.
    According to sheriff’s deputies, a couple contacted authorities after losing $500 to the scam. The couple received a phone call from a man who identified himself only as “Mr. Green.” He told the couple they had won $1.5 million through Publisher’s Clearing House, but to collect the money, the couple would have to purchase a $500 money card to cover various fees.

    April 18, 2014

  • Missing local teen found dead

    The body of a missing 17-year-old boy was found in southern Cherokee County on Thursday, sheriff’s investigators said.
    Brikk Pritchett was reported missing earlier this month after disappearing on March 30, a day before his 17th birthday.

    April 18, 2014

  • ts honor flight 1.tif Flight of honor

    World War II veteran Charles Harra flew missions for the Army Air Corps, and if you ask him which flight was his most memorable, he’ll say it was his 35th mission.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Man charged after leading authorities on wild chase

    Prosecutors have formally charged a man who allegedly led authorities on a wild high-speed pursuit across Cherokee County in late March.

    April 17, 2014

  • Sex offender bonds out after failing to register

    A Cherokee County man is out on bond after being arrested last week for failing to register as a sex offender.

    April 17, 2014

  • jn radiator shop.jpg ‘Greenbelt’ progressing

    Crews this week began to demolish an abandoned radiator shop at the corner of South Street and Guinn Avenue.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • ts slut walk.tif SlutWalk shines spotlight on crime

    “Two, four, six, eight, stop the violence, stop the rape; slut, slut, ho, ho, yes means yes and no means no!”
    This was the battle cry across the campus of Northeastern State University, as the student branch of the American Association of University Women held its third annual SlutWalk Wednesday.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • SR-TonsOffTahl-A.jpg Tribes, city, NSU launch Tons Off Tahlequah campaign

    When studies are conducted about whether Americans are living healthy lifestyles, Oklahoma often ranks poorly among the states.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo


What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case Author Gabriel Garcia Marquez Dead at 87 Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Crew Criticized Over Handling of Ferry Disaster Agreement Reached to Calm Ukraine Tensions Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later