Pawnee Nation Inspects Earthquake Damage

Tuesday, September 6th 2016, 12:05 am
By: News On 6

Building inspectors uncovered even more damage days after the strongest earthquake ever recorded rocked Oklahoma. 

The Pawnee Nation says more than half of its buildings have extensive damage. 

Some of the buildings at the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma are more than 100 years old. Now, two days after the strongest ever earthquake hit Oklahoma, in every room in the historical tribal building are large cracks up the walls and on the ceiling. On the ground there are bits of mortar.

An old building such as this may not be able to withstand another earthquake like the one that shook the state September 3, 2016.

“These buildings were built almost 100 years ago and they’re sturdy as heck and ready to withstand everything Oklahoma could throw at them – except for earthquakes,” said Andrew Knife Chief, a citizen of the Pawnee Nation.

The cracks that extend from the wall to the ceiling reflect that statement as the floor is littered with the debris left in the wake of the quake that rocked Pawnee

“This is not wood. This is solid sandstone wall. You can feel it. And it’s cracked all the way through,” Knife Chief said.

Monday, Knife Chief and inspectors checked 15 buildings finding extensive damage in seven of those.

“People can go in them, but unfortunately, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done so we don’t know when we’re going to open up for business,” he said.

Knife Chief said the earthquakes seem to be happening more regularly.

USGS Geologist Daniel McNamara said they have been more powerful.

“Magnitude fives occurred in Oklahoma maybe once every 50 to 100 years -- naturally occurring earthquakes. But, in the last five years you’ve had three earthquakes over that magnitude,” McNamara said.

Knife Chief said he’s thankful no one got hurt when the mortar and walls began buckling, but now it's on to the next challenge.

“[We must] find temporary work spaces so we can bring our folks back in to work and let them do their jobs,” Knife Chief said.

With this amount of extensive damage, the Pawnee Nation said it doesn’t know how long it will take to make the repairs, only that it will take a very long time.