Sunday, December 4, 2011

Multiple Earthquakes Hit Prague Square On

Nov 5, I awoke in the early morning, that indistinct time between night and dawn. I lay listening and feeling the stillness. Prague is unusually quiet for a small town. I tossed restlessly hoping to go back to sleep when I heard a low rumble to the north. I started to think about whether it meant a storm coming, when the rumble rushed in and enveloped me before I could complete the thought. The house was shaking violently. It
was loud. I knew it was an earthquake but had no idea to expect anything of that sort in

The two overnight guests and I went downstairs as the house shook and shook and shook. Finally as it let go we sat and talked. Aftershocks came. Each one was frightening. I had no idea if we had had the ʻbig oneʼ and then would only have minor aftershocks or if we were working up to a larger one.

Richard had never been to a Baba Center before and never been in an earthquake. Having read some of God Speaks, he was feeling particularly drawn to come this particular weekend and find out more about Meher Baba. He awoke to the house shaking. Not feeling a spec of anxiety, his first thought was, “Oh Baba!” He felt enveloped in a strong presence and a feeling of elation. He told us he just wanted to
lay there and enjoy it! The concept of ʻenjoyingʼ a 4.7 earthquake escaped me. After we had tired ourselves out talking, laughing, processing; we went to bed.

The next night we had barely gotten in bed when another larger earthquake, 5.6 struck. Again we piled downstairs. This time even though things fell off shelves and it felt stronger, it was not as long in duration. A plaster cast of Babaʼs hand fell to the floor and shattered. At the other end of the house, Meheraʼs picture tumbled off the mantle, even though a faux flower in front of the picture remained in place, untouched.
Each morning we checked for damage. The greatest damage is to the side arches of the front portico area of the house. The guests left, thanking me and Baba for such a ʻmoving experience.ʼ That evening as I dared to let myself think that it was over, another 4.7 hit. It was quick, but had a decided ʻsnapʼ to it. In between the three main earthquakes were some 30 other ʻsmallerʼ quakes. And the quakes continued, for weeks, but fortunately not with such intensity. As I write this Dec 3 (a month after the first shocks), we are still having aftershocks.

The house has remained in good shape considering that it wasnʼt built for that kind of stress. The main part of the house has a strong foundation and full basement. So the parts of the house affected the most have been those add-ons: the library, front porch area, and sunroom. Most houses in the area are low, but this house has three floors. There was a lot more of it moving. Structural engineers that looked at the house later explained that the house is built as a wood frame structure. This is flexible and moves as the earth underneath moves. The problem is when that motion comes up against the immovable parts; brick, mortar, concrete. That was what I heard every time the house shook. It seemed to slam into the brick and mortar, making it seem like the house was going to fall down around my ears.

Some other neighbors, a little closer to the epicenters were not as lucky. St Gregoryʼs, a 100-year-old University and cathedral in Shawnee, suffered damage to statuesque buildings with high towers and turrets. Three of the four turrets on a classroom building either collapsed during the quake or have had to be dismantled because of damage to structural integrity.

The governor declared Lincoln County a state of emergency because some homes were not habitable and no one had quake insurance; including the Heartland Center. Six days after the first quake, a public meeting was held in Prague to help townspeople learn more about what was happening. A state geologist told about the Wilzetta Fault Line. This fault line had not previously been active in the last 300 million yrs. It also is
not the type of fault line where tectonic plates come together, but is called ʻan upliftʼ. He flashed a picture on a screen of the map of the fault line. It crosses Rt 62 west of Prague and east of Meeker. The line is approximately within one mile from the Accident Site where Meher Baba and Mehera were thrown from the car onto the dirt next to Stanley Moukkaʼs driveway in 1952. Almost all of the quakes followed that fault line both north and south of rt 62. Another interesting thing learned was that the largest quake before in Oklahoma (recorded) history was in April 1952, a 5.5 the epicenter being El Reno, next to Oklahoma City (not on the Wilzetta fault line). This was only six weeks before the accident Meher Baba called ʻhis crucifixionʼ.

There was very heated discussion at the meeting of whether these earthquakes were the result of an injection drilling technique used to find oil and gas pockets called ʻfrackingʼ. Liquid forced into the rock under pressure fractures it and allows oil and gas to come to the surface. There are companies in the area who employ that type of drilling. There was nothing conclusive either way but the geologist said he did not rule
out anything.

I feel very grateful that there were no serious injuries caused by the quakes. The turrets collapsing at St Gregoryʼs could have hurt any number of people. We have cracks in mortar and brick and plaster walls that were not there before. The portico will need substantial work at some point, but nothing collapsed or came down.

And isnʼt it interesting that now so many people in this country and in the world have heard of Prague Oklahoma. And whatʼs the significance of the fault line running across Rt 62, a mile from the ʻaccident siteʼ?

Lord Meher 4325
“For the sake of the overwhelming love of their Master, his lovers are unmindful of calamities and sufferings. Their whole stand on this earth is completely shaken to such an extent that nothing is left to cling to but the love for their Beloved Master. They seem to be like dust particles floating in the air. Ultimately, as soon as the love for the Master is established, that love places them on a rocklike foundation.”

Sometimes Heʼs so literal.
- Ginna

A photo of the damaged porch held up by Grady's good carpentry!

Humor returns: our local coffeeshop has a great take on the whole situation

Jeannie and I put flowers out on the fourth day at the accident site.  A small aftershock went through as we stood there.

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