Oklahoma governor, Pawnee Nation declare state of emergency after 5.6-magnitude earthquake

PAWNEE, Okla., Sept. 4 (UPI) — Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and the Pawnee Nation declared a state of emergency for Pawnee County, Okla., after a 5.6-magnitude earthquake.

The earthquake Saturday morning was felt in several states and was the strongest in Oklahoma since the November 2011 5.6-magnitude earthquake in Lincoln County. The quake began at 7:02 a.m. and the epicenter was eight miles northwest of Pawnee in northern Oklahoma.

Residents in Pawnee reported damaged homes and businesses.

Oklahoma Department of Transportatuon crews inspected 180 bridges on the state highway and turnpike system and declared them safe for travel. Minor cosmetic damage was noted on two bridges.

Wells within 10 miles of the quake’s epicenter will shut down completely within 10 days, Oklahoma Corporation Commission spokesman Matt Skinner said.

In downtown Pawnee, the worst damage was to the old Arkansas Valley National Bank building.

“Beautiful old sandstone building and some of the exterior fa├žade of that building has fallen onto the sidewalk,” Pawnee Mayor Brad Sewell told NewsChannel 4.

Resident Joe Alley said he was trying to protect his child when bricks fell and hit his head. He was later released from the hospital.

“I’m glad to hear no one was seriously hurt in today’s earthquake and damage appears to be limited,” Fallin said in a statement. “This emergency declaration will start the process to helping individuals, families and businesses impacted by the earthquakes and serves as a precursor to requesting any necessary assistance.”

Fallin’s 30-day executive order allows state agencies to make emergency purchases related to the disaster relief. And it’s a first step toward seeking federal aid if necessary.

The Pawnee Nation reported no injuries but six buildings were damaged, including two severely.

“This morning the tribe experienced a significant earthquake which triggered our nations emergency response,” W. Bruce Pratt, president of the nation said in a statement. “First off, I am happy to report that we have received no reports of injuries to any of our citizens. This is a great thing and we thank Atius [the Native American god of creation] for his mercies.

“Second, the nation’s buildings have damage to such an extent that we will be closed until inspections can determine whether they are safe to occupy or not.”

The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake was felt across Oklahoma and into parts of Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, Texas, Nebraska and Iowa.

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