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Oklahoma earthquake prompts OU to call in structural experts

Classes at the University of Oklahoma are in session, but structural experts will evaluate the buildings.
Staff Writers Modified: October 13, 2010 at 4:02 pm •  Published: October 13, 2010

City, county and school officials in Norman said the earthquake that shook the city Wednesday morning caused much excitement but little confirmed damage.

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake centered about eight miles southeast of Norman was reported at 9:06 a.m.

Norman police Capt. Tom Easley said there are no known reports of injuries or damage in the city, but residents flooded the 911 lines.

"The dispatchers were going crazy," Easley said. "They said (it seemed) everybody on every block in Norman called 911."

Kelly Wells, media relations specialist for Norman Regional Health System, said Wednesday afternoon that no one was transported to Norman Regional Hospital or came in on their own because of earthquake-related injuries.

At the University of Oklahoma, a section of glass in the ceiling at Dale Hall was shattered though it remained in place and there was no immediate confirmation it was caused by the earthquake.

Classes in Dale Hall and throughout the campus continued, and about 11 a.m. OU President David Boren issued this statement:

"While no basic structural damage has been found, as a precaution OU has called in a team of structural experts to evaluate buildings and structures on campus. No injuries have been reported. At this time, people on campus are returning to normal activities."

Even so, many students talked about the earthquake as they walked to and from class. Several told The Oklahoman they felt buildings shaking and heard windows rattling, but saw no damage.

Tim Marquis said he was in an electronic news gathering class at Gaylord Hall when a projector hanging from the ceiling shook and the professor asked, "Quick, does anyone have a camera?"

Micaelan Wright, a Norman freshman, was at her on-campus job when the earthquake happened, and items on her desk rattled about.

"I thought, 'Hey, maybe my test will be canceled, but no," she said. "But that's OK because I studied for it."

Little Axe schools in the Lake Thunderbird area are near the epicenter, and Superintendent Barry Damrill said no damage was found in district's buildings.

"Even our kids didn't get excited, though they thought it was pretty fun," Damrill said.

Norman Assistant Superintendent Roger Brown said a crack was found in the Cleveland Elementary School cafeteria, but experts are checking to determine if the damage was caused by the earthquake or if it was already there. Brown said no other campuses reported damage.

House rattling

Charles Varnell lives in east Norman near Lake Thunderbird.

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