Crescent schools still recovering from earthquake damage

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CRESCENT, Okla. – The 4.5 magnitude quake hit the Crescent area July 27th, 2015.

When a superintendent entered an old high school gym, he immediately knew they had problems.

There was a giant crack running almost the entire length of both the east and west walls.

An engineer determined the walls had moved and flexed.

It was an immediate safety issue, and the district sealed off the building.

“Having been on the job in this district for four weeks, I had not read the insurance policy yet, and so that was my first phone call," said superintendent Mickey Hart. "Where is the agent?  What’s he going to tell me?”

Hart discovered they did have earthquake insurance.

The deductible was $50,000 per building, but the damage to the gym alone was about $400,000.

“I would say what worked with this policy is that there were no exclusions for any earth movement not deemed by natural causes," said Kelly McLemore with the Oklahoma Schools Risk Management Trust. "Some policies have that limitation."

OSMRT provides property and casualty insurance to about 40 percent of the school districts in our state.

Many of those district opt for the additional earthquake coverage.

Temporary i-beams now support the crumbling walls, while the work is being done.

“Those were put up as soon as the engineer determined that the walls had moved and flexed and that there was really nothing inside the walls to keep them from moving and flexing more,” said Hugh O’Hara with Maguire O’Hara Construction, Inc.

O’Hara said those two walls will be completely rebuilt and they will be sturdier and more able to stand up to earthquakes.

“We can’t obviously stop anything from moving,” O’Hara said. "But, we do want to make sure that, if it does move, it’s not any risk of collapse, the damage wouldn’t be a catastrophic failure, and that’s potentially what was happening here with these walls."

The superintendent said damage to other buildings of the school only totaled about $2,000.

He said they would not have been able to afford to repair the gym without the insurance money.

He expects the construction on the gym will be complete by the end of the school year.

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