The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

National and world

December 2, 2013

Oklahoma adopts California-style quake precautions

(Continued)

PRAGUE, Okla. —

*****

When the quakes happen, the movement feels like somebody’s running through Bert Bennett’s house, “shaking all the furniture.” The vibrating cracks Joe and Mary Reneau’s brick chimney and pulls their kitchen cabinets away from the wall. Mark Treat’s dishes, drawers and bed start to rattle, and the floor feels like it’s “coming alive.”

Then there’s the sound. Pam Ousley compares it to a sonic boom or some kind of explosion. Bill Hediger says the din is like a “jet engine that rumbles.”

“It’s kind of scary and you just hope it quits,” said Hediger, whose current earthquake-safety plan entails bolting from his Edmond home and running out into the street. “Makes you wonder if I should move away.”

Preparing for the worst, officials here are adopting some of the same advice given to residents of the earthquake-prone West Coast, where terms like fault lines and plate tectonics are part of the everyday vocabulary.

Oklahoma officials are recommending a website designed for California residents that offers tips on earthquake preparedness, like anchoring bookshelves to walls and stringing wire across the books to prevent them from toppling onto anyone.

The site, www.earthquakecountry.info, now is being consulted in mid-America, said Austin Holland, a seismologist with the Oklahoma Geological Survey.

“The main thing is securing things that can fall and hurt you,” Holland said. “Everybody thinks of the catastrophic failure of buildings when they think of earthquakes, but the most common sources of injuries are falling bookcases, pictures, heavy stuff above your bed.”

Some skeptics brush off the fear surrounding the quakes, saying it’s all happened before.

In the faded gold-mining town of Meers — an area with a fault line that was once so seismically active that scientists in the mid-1980s installed a seismograph in the local burger joint — Joe Maranto chuckles at all the fuss.

Maranto, who runs a store and restaurant, said a magnitude-7 earthquake that happened around 2,000 years ago caused the Meers Fault to break open above the ground.

“There’s nothing new about earthquakes,” he laughed. “They’ve always been here and they always will be here.

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