“Help. It's kind of what all of us are saying is ‘help,’” David Ruhl said sitting in the dining room of his Edmond home. He and his family moved to Edmond nearly a decade ago thinking they'd found a piece of paradise.
“When we moved here nine years ago, I mean, this was heaven,” he said.
Born and raised Oklahoma, Ruhl knows how harsh Mother Nature can be, but when the earthquakes started four years ago, the most recent ones damaging his house, it turned into a very different kind of threat.
“It's more unnerving,” Ruhl said as he was pointing out some fresh cracks in the ceiling in the bedroom. “You can't go back to sleep after something like that hits your house.”
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the earthquake topped out at a magnitude of 4.4, but was then revised to a 4.2 after hitting just before 5:40 Friday morning just north of Edmond. It was the second within a week to top a 4.0 magnitude.
At 2:28 p.m., another 3.1 magnitude earthquake was recorded two miles southwest of Guthrie, and 13 miles north of Edmond.
The quakes aren't just getting stronger either but closer, according to some seismologists who believe the quakes may have reactivated a new fault that, once activated, can produce more powerful earthquakes.
“They have been shown to produce up to Mag. 5.6 and in a few studies we have done at the USGS, we have shown that some of these faults could host earthquakes as big as Mag 6,” USGS seismologist in Colorado, Dan McNamara said on Wednesday.
That kind of seismic activity can mean much more damage and a higher risk to residents, both are things that Ruhl says may force him to move and leave his slice of heaven.
“What are you going to do sit here and say ok I'm going to stay here until the whole thing falls down and then I'll move.”
And he's not alone in his frustration. Kathy Matthews says she's going after state officials, even the governor, for answers and action to fight what she calls was the real problem; money from Big Oil and Energy. She said she plans to call for swifter and harsher action once lawmakers return to session.
“What we're saying is there's a greater impact on the economy when you have hundreds of millions of dollars of damage worth of real estate that's being damaged by that industry and at some point the public interest of the taxpayer and electorate have to supersede those of the oil companies,” she said.
Matthews said there was an ongoing effort to ignore the science showing the cause of the earthquakes was linked to wastewater disposal wells was a “hide the ball game” run by state officials, academia and oil executives.
She said she understands the state’s funding is tightly tied to the energy industry. In fact, nearly 25 percent of all state tax revenue is linked to energy production in Oklahoma. Matthews and Ruhl say they don't have all the answers but what they're asking is simple.
The Oklahoma corporation commission said Friday it hadn’t identified any wastewater injection wells as the cause of these most recent earthquakes however; the commission has shut down numerous wells across the state based on seismic research. The OCC said it hasn’t taken any action yet, but they said they'll have that by Jan. 4.