Running From the Epicenters

The first week of November 2014, 11PM.  I’m in the shower with water running over my head.  I feel a rumble and shaking of what sounds like a huge truck going down the alleyway behind the house.  That’s strange why is that big truck going down the alley so late at night?  My husband comes running in the bathroom and asks:  “ Did you feel that earthquake?”  I said:  “No, but I heard a big truck going down the alley”.   THAT WAS AN EARTHQUAKE!  

I had heard about the random quakes happening to the west of us since 2008, but never thought it would effect us.  I had traveled to areas that have natural earthquakes, but never felt one.  

I had escaped ever feeling a quake until now.

2 weeks later:  Saturday Night 9:30pm.  My husband and I are sitting in chairs talking when the whole room begins to sway,  a rumble and a huge jolt as if a Mac Truck hit the house and then the windows shook and rattled loudly.  It was as if everything was in slow motion and I said to my husband:

“What is happening?  Am I having a stroke?"  

My legs went weak in the chair and I could not comprehend what was going on….the room was moving in several directions at once.  Our eyes locked in fear.  The movement passed and he jumped up and ran outside to see if something had hit the house.  I sat there trying to make sense of what was going on. 

I finally got up and walked around the house in a stupor.  I grabbed my phone and called a friend that lives a few miles away.  “Did you feel that?”  She said:  “ Girl, something just hit my house and I am outside trying to figure out what it was.”   I asked: “ Could it have been an earthquake?”.  I called the the non-emergency number for the police, it just rang and rang.  I kept calling…..finally, they answered.  IT WAS AN EARTHQUAKE. 

 

In my shock, I went on our neighborhood social media site.  I had never seen it that active.  For the next few days, I started searching for answers.  Why are we feeling this now, in this area?  I researched that we had not had any movement of the earth in this area since 1851. I also discovered that there are 2 frack wells less than a mile from my house.   How could I have driven by those 2 wells every day and never known they were there hidden behind the trees? 

In the meantime,  I kept contact on the neighborhood site. One of my neighbors, private messaged me and said: “ We need to talk, let’s meet tomorrow.”  She was doing her own research and we talked for hours.  Other neighbors reached out to discuss our earthquake dilemma.  We discovered that injection of wastewater from fracking that began in our area since 2008 was causing our earthquakes.  There was a huge amount of fracking with wastewater injection wells near us in surrounding counties.

The quakes continued through mid-December.  We noticed the quakes subsided during Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.  We discussed that the quakes would begin again after New Years.  Little did we know that the numbers would increase dramatically. 

 

Jan 6, 2015, 3:17PM.   I had come home 15 minutes earlier from running errands, sat down in the chair and the cat jumped in my lap and went promptly to sleep.  All of a sudden, there was a huge rumble in the ground like a freight train coming and the house jolted violently.  The walls shook and pictures went askew, things fell over, the windows rattled as if they would break. The movement came from the back of the house to the front. My heart was in my throat, pounding.  My cat let out a sound I have never heard before, while he shot me a dagger as if he was saying:  “MAKE IT STOP”!  I had always wondered what I would do if an intruder came into the house.  I thought I would jump up and run.  But to my surprise, I froze.  I was paralyzed with fear.  A friend texted me to see if I was home.  My hands shook as I wrote:

“I’m so scared, I can’t move”. 

I finally took a breath, looked at the clock for exact time to report it on USGS, "Did You Feel It", but so many minutes had passed I had to guess the time.  

Later that day, my husband came home from work around 7pm and walked into the dinning room.  I stood up to get dinner when another huge rumble began and I could tell this one was larger than before.   I yelled at him:  “Get out of the house!!!”  as the JOLT hit and the shaking began.  We both froze. I remembered moaning as if I was an animal that was injured.  My heart in my throat pounding again.  As the shaking passed, I took a sigh of relief.  I wasn’t sure how much more I could take.   I began packing a bag with medications and important documents in case we had to leave.  As I was packing the bag, another rumble came from the back of house and I sprinted to the door.  It was a smaller quake and had subsided.

I was relieved that I had learned how to run that day.

 

I left the bag by the door all night ready to run.  Run, I did, every time I heard that rumble. 

 

Another quake around 1:30am.  I went to the neighborhood site and several people were on it.  A man said his daughter woke him up and wanted to sleep in the parents bed. 

 

On Jan 6th +7th 2015 we had 11 quakes in that 24 hour period. 

 

I did not sleep or shower for 2 days for fear of another quake. 

 

One April afternoon, the epicenter was on our street and the house jolted 4 times in 4 different directions.  I screamed.  My husband asked:  Are you alright?  I said:

“No!  I’m not alright with living this way!” 

I had always thought of my home as a haven to relax and unwind, not something I feared would fall down around me. 

 

In 2015, we had hundreds of quakes in the Irving area of North Texas.  I felt them at work, at home, while I was shopping.  As the year went on, we all became very good at predicting the magnitudes as we watched our houses crack and crumble.  Many small quakes went unreported, but the neighbors reported all of them.  We reached out to city officials, state officials, and regulators.  It all fell on deaf ears.  We learned over time, that the oil and gas industry controls our cities, legislators, and regulators that are suppose to protect us.

The quakes subsided when gas prices fell and they stopped fracking and injecting less wastewater in the Barnett Shale the beginning of 2016.

It is astonishing that in American an industry is allowed to damage and destroy peoples lives and homes for profit.  

 

I have not felt a quake for almost a year now, but, every time a door slams or I hear a rumble, I jump and my heart beats faster. 

 

I am relieved to have moved away from the epicenters.  

 

 

***Names have been removed to protect the identity of the author