Irving and Dallas city leaders Wednesday said they are boosting earthquake readiness plans after at least a dozen quakes shook North Texas in 36 hours.
All of the earthquakes were centered near the former Texas Stadium site, near the intersection of State Highways 114 and 183 in Irving but near the Dallas city limits.
Dallas city employees clearly felt the 3.5-magnitude earthquake Tuesday afternoon miles away at Dallas City Hall.
Angelina Caudillo said she felt it while sitting at her Dallas City Hall desk and others around her noticed it, too.
“We kind of started walking around the aisle. Everybody got kind of excited and another lady said, ‘What do we do? Where do we go?’” Caudillo said.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said he and Irving Mayor Beth VanDuyne are working to respond to new citizen concerns about earthquakes.
“She and I have committed a joint plan to get a plan on this issue,” Rawlings said.
They will rely on support from experts at Southern Methodist University. On Wednesday, SMU seismologists began installing additional seismographs near the Texas Stadium site to provide more data on earth movements in the area. Within the next few days, 22 additional monitors will be installed after 15 were finished Wednesday.
The SMU experts have studied past series of DFW-area earthquakes.
Dallas Emergency Management Director Rocky Raz said his office will work with the SMU experts to support the new earthquake preparedness plans.
“We want to start educating our citizens to be prepared on how to respond and how to recover,” Raz said.
Unlike hurricanes or tornadoes, earthquakes come without warning. But Raz said people can still prepare by keeping safety measures in mind. The earthquake safety slogan “Drop, Cover and Hold On” refers to taking cover under a desk or table, then holding it in place overhead during an earthquake.
“I reached out to my good friend in L.A. to talk about what they have done, how they prepare,” Raz said. “It was not something on our radar.”
So far, the North Texas earthquakes have been well below the level to cause serious injury or damage.
“We are hopeful it doesn’t go beyond that magnitude, but we don’t know yet,” Raz said.
Since 2008, more than 100 quakes have hit North Texas; 45 were in the Irving area alone and more than 20 happened in just the last three months. Before 2008, only one earthquake had ever been recorded in the area. So, historically, earthquakes are a very rare occurrence in North Texas.
Still, the office of Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins released a statement Wednesday saying the county would use an "all hazards approach" to response and preparedness for emergencies, which includes planning for earthquakes.
Jenkins said the county's emergency management staff will speak this week with officials at Southern Methodist University and city emergency managers to make sure the county is as prepared as they can be for future emergencies.
"While the cause of these earthquakes is still being investigated and the threat for a major earthquake in Dallas County remains low, I would encourage our residents to review important earthquake preparedness and safety information from FEMA and the American Red Cross," Jenkins said in a statement.
The county offered up the following as preparedness tips:
- Have an emergency kit that includes items such as bottled water, several days’ worth of food, a flashlight, a first aid kit, pet food, and a battery powered radio (for full list go to www.Ready.gov)
- Fasten shelves securely to walls
- Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves
- Locate safe spots in each room under a sturdy table or against an inside wall
- Hold earthquake drills with your family members: Drop, cover and hold on!
- DROP to your hands and knees
- COVER your head and neck with your arms and only move if you need to get away from the danger of falling objects
- HOLD ON to any sturdy shelter until the shaking stops
If you find yourself in an earthquake, it’s important to remember these Do’s and Don’ts:
- DO drop, cover and hold on!
- DO stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls
- DO NOT get in a doorway
- DO stay inside until the shaking stops
- DO NOT use the elevators.
- If outside, DO move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires
You can find more information on how to prepare for and respond to an earthquake at the following websites:
- www.Ready.gov (Spanish language site www.Listo.gov)
Irving State Farm Insurance agent Argel Flores said he never heard interest in earthquake coverage before but he knows why customers are asking for it now. He felt the earthquake himself Tuesday in his O’Connor Boulevard office.
“It felt kind of like a wave. I can’t explain it. It went through the whole building and it shook everything around us,” he said.
On Wednesday Flores said he was swamped with calls from Irving policyholders anxious to add earthquake coverage to their homeowners’ coverage. It costs an extra $30 to $100 a year, he said.