Earthquake rocks central Oklahoma
A sharp earthquake centered near one of the world’s key oil hubs Sunday night triggered fears that the magnitude 5.0 temblor might have damaged key infrastructure in addition to causing what police described as “quite a bit of damage” in the Oklahoma prairie town of Cushing. City Manager Steve Spears said a few minor injuries were reported and questioned whether some of the community’s century-old buildings might be unsafe. Police cordoned off older parts of the town to keep away gawkers.
“Stay out of the area,” Spears told residents during a late-night news conference. Emergency officials evacuated an assisted living center catering to the elderly in Cushing. Assistant City Manager Jeremy Frazier said that while damage was reported at the Cimarron Tower after the quake, no injuries were reported among the home’s residents. It wasn’t immediately known how many people lived at the building in downtown Cushing. Tulsa television station KOTV said some of those taken from the home were moved to the Cushing Youth Center.
Frazier said the temblor caused the most damage in and around Cushing’s century-old downtown. A number of brick facades had collapsed, and window panes in several buildings shattered. Frazier said city leaders could do a better assessment after sun-up. Cindy Roe, 50, has lived in Cushing all her life and said she’s never felt anything like Sunday’s quake. “I thought my whole trailer was going to tip over, it was shaking it so bad,” she said. “It was loud and all the lights went out and you could hear things falling on the ground. “It was awful and I don’t want to have another one.”
Megan Gustafson and Jonathan Gillespie were working a shift at a McDonald’s in Cushing when the quake hit. “It felt like a train was going right through the building, actually,” Gustafson, 17, said Sunday night as she and her co-workers stood behind a police barricade downtown, looking for damage. “I kind of freaked out and was hyperventilating a bit.” Gillespie, also 17, described the building as shaking for about 10 seconds or so. But he said he wasn’t as alarmed as Gustafson because he lives in an area that has experienced multiple earthquakes, especially in recent years. “I didn’t think it was anything new,” he said.
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission said it and the Oklahoma Geological Survey were investigating after the quake, which struck at 7:44 p.m. and was felt as far away as Iowa, Illinois and Texas. “The OCC’s Pipeline Safety Department has been in contact with pipeline operators in the Cushing oil storage terminal under state jurisdiction and there have been no immediate reports of any problems,” the commission’s spokesman, Matt Skinner, said in a statement. “The assessment of the infrastructure continues.”
Assistant City Manager Jeremy Frazier said two pipeline companies had reported no trouble but that the community hadn’t heard from all companies. The oil storage terminal is one of the world’s largest. As of Oct 28, tank farms in the countryside around Cushing held 58.5 million barrels of crude oil, according to data from the US Energy Information Administration. The community bills itself as the “Pipeline Crossroads of the World.” The Cushing Police Department reported “quite a bit of damage” in the town of 7,900. Spears said some damage was superficial - bricks falling off facades - but that some older buildings might have damaged foundations that would be difficult to assess until daylight.