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.
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Third Thursday Art Walk
Shoppers will have a chance to visit downtown merchants in the evening during the Tahlequah Main Street Association’s first Third Thursday Art Walk and After Party on Thursday, March 20.
Participating downtown businesses will keep their doors open to offer specials until 8 p.m., and artists will display their work at different locations. Art exhibitors, including the Cherokee Art Center’s Spider Gallery, will stay open late.
Sex offender bill reaches House
By a unanimous 44-0 vote of the Oklahoma Senate, a bill that would make it more difficult for registered sex offenders to change their names has reached the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
Senate Bill 1421, authored by Kyle Loveless, Oklahoma City Republican, underwent its first reading in the House on Feb. 27.
Cherokee County Undersheriff Jason Chennault said he did not know of any instances, during his service with the department, of registered sex offenders evading detection with new names for any length of time.
SB 1497 may aid transparency
Government transparency advocates were pleased, and some were surprised, when a proposed bill designed to strengthen Oklahoma’s Open Meetings Act passed the Senate Judicial Committee recently.
Senate Bill 1497, by Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, would allow citizens who are denied access to public meetings to bring civil lawsuits, and if the court rules in favor, to collect attorney’s fees. A continuing resolution has already been filed.
Should the legislation pass into law, it would become effective Nov. 1 this year.
Moulton: Sovereignty is John Ross’ legacy
When describing the Cherokee people, the words “well-educated” and “independent” may come to mind. Those attributes were principles held most dear by John Ross, principal chief of the Cherokees from 1828-1866.
Dr. Gary Moulton, University of Nebraska Thomas C. Sorensen emeritus professor of American history, discussed Ross’ history during a presentation at the Tahlequah Armory Municipal Center Thursday. The event was organized by the history department at Northeastern State University.
The bear facts
A joint project linking two state agencies with researchers at Oklahoma State University is gathering the “bear facts” on a growing population in the northeastern part of the state.
A six-year study on black bears in Cherokee, Adair and Sequoyah counties is being conducted as a precursor to possible establishment of a controlled hunting season in Green Country. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, and Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management of Oklahoma State University have partnered for the endeavor.
Drug task force seizes K2 at a Tahlequah house
The District 27 Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force seized between $200 and $300 worth of synthetic drugs during a bust Friday.
The Tahlequah Police Department and the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service were also in on the raid. Members of the task force hope the seizure will aid in an ongoing investigation to find larger suppliers.
“We received information that sales were being made from a residence off Choctaw Street,” said Michael Moore, task force director. “Further investigation led to a state search warrant based on the federal Schedule I list of drugs.”
Citizens can report sight obstructions to city
On Feb. 25-26, the Tahlequah Fire Department responded to motor vehicle accidents at South Muskogee Avenue and South Street, and since that time, a few citizens have expressed concern about the sight lines at the intersection.
A visit to the intersection showed that, for traffic westbound on South, the view south down Muskogee is partially obstructed by shrubbery and a tree that appear to be on private property.
Spears: OSRC should help boost business
In a little over 25 years, Arrowhead Resort owner Jack Spears has grown his business from being the smallest float operator on the Illinois River to the second-largest, and he’d like to continue on that path.
Spears believes tourism is vital to the Tahlequah area. He says if the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission would eliminate a zoning issue along the river, both the agency and his own business would reap the benefits.
Spears recently asked the OSRC to consider doing away with recreational floating zones. Commercial flotation device licenses are granted to operators in each area for a total of 3,900 licenses.
Last-place swine earns top sale bid
Local businessmen drew regional attention through a record-setting bid of $10,000 at the Cherokee County Spring Livestock Show last Saturday, but now they say they don’t want the recognition.
The annual show, which ends with a premium sale featuring top winners, is a fundraiser for local FFA and 4-H participants. Proceeds help cover the animals’ expenses or are used for future projects or showings. Community members, organizations and businesses bid on the livestock, but it is not a purchase. The children showing get to keep their animals.
Hulbert man involved in standoff didn’t own illegal guns
Further investigation into the Friday standoff between a Hulbert man and law enforcement has not yet produced any weapons charges.
A search warrant executed after the incident uncovered several firearms inside the trailer in which Michael Wyatt Earp, 42, was living. Law enforcement officers and agents were concerned that some weapons were fully automatic.
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