The Shawnee News-Star
  • St. Gregory’s University felt the brunt of damage

  • Perhaps some of the most sustained damage from the 5.6 magnitude earthquake that hit just outside of Sparks late Saturday night was felt by the community at St. Gregory’s University.

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  • Perhaps some of the most sustained damage from the 5.6 magnitude earthquake that hit just outside of Sparks late Saturday night was felt by the community at St. Gregory’s University.
    There were four turrets at the top of Benedictine Hall at St. Gregory’s, now there are three. Their fate won’t be known because they are coming down for repair, as a cautionary move, said Brad Collins, St. Gregory’s Public Relations director.
    “One totally collapsed and the other three are significantly damaged,” Collins said. “Because the other three are damaged, they will need to come down, all three of them, so we can make the building operable again.”
    He said taking the pillars, or turrets down, is a cautionary measure to protect the safety of the 100 people who occupy Benedictine Hall. Collins said the first step will be to simply take the turrets down, then the next step will be looking at restoration efforts.
    Classes were cancelled Monday and will resume Tuesday. However, the university said they are still uncertain as to where they will hold some of them.
    “We’ve gotten calls from OBU and a couple of other places and we are keeping our options open,” Collins said. “We might use a classroom from OBU, but we are not sure yet.”
    Collins said the staff whose offices are in Benedictine Hall will have to use what they can find, until they get that building secured, and he said they will have that resolved sometime during the week.
    St. Gregory University President Greg Main said St. Gregory’s Benedictine Hall is the equivalent of a 10 story building and the restoration will be a complicated activity that will require a large crane.
    “We interviewed one crane company today and we’ll do another one tomorrow,” Main said. “It looks like a week or so before we can get that activity under way.”
    Main said once the building is sealed they will get a structual engineer to evaluate the building.
    “We think that the building is in sound condition with the exception of these turrets,” he said. “Assuming we get what we think will be a positive report, we’ll be able to reoccupy the building.”
    He said St. Gregory’s is receiving a lot of attention from alumni and friends nationwide.
    “We are getting dramatic response from all across the nation from friends and alumni of St. Gregory’s inquiring about what they can do to help,” Main said.
    The university has a fund set up to restore Benedictine Hall on their website www.stgregorys.edu.   
    While St. Gregory’s is feverishly fielding calls from the nation’s media, the insurance companies around the city have been taking calls from Shawnee residents on how to get enrolled in earthquake insurance coverage.
    Page 2 of 2 - Charlotte Barnett, of Ford Insurance in Shawnee, said her phone lines had been busy all Monday morning with many people asking about earthquake insurance.
    “Our phones are tied up, every line, and have been since we opened at a little before 9 this morning,” Barnett said. “Every one that’s calling is asking about earthquake insurance.”
    Barnett said earthquake insurance rates are variable among various companies, but it’s within the range of $50 to $300.
    She said although the $50 premium doesn’t sound like a lot, there is a very high deductible that comes along with that.
    “The minimal deductible that some companies will write is 10 percent,” Barnett said. “Say your house is insured for $300,000, you are going to have a $30,000 deductible.”
    She said she hasn’t heard from any of her existing customers about claims on their already existing earthquake insurance coverage, and she said she has a few in Shawnee who are insured with earthquake coverage.
    Michael Cappo, of Michael Cappo Farmers Insurance in Shawnee, said his firm always has a lot of inquisitive phone calls after major weather or geological events.
    “We don’t think about earthquake coverage in Oklahoma, because we don’t have earthquakes here,” Cappo said. “Like in Montana, they probably don’t worry about flood coverage because they don’t have very many floods.”
    Cappo said Shawnee was very fortunate as far as damage to homes from the earthquake.
    “It was mostly things knocked off walls,” he said. “There is no significant damage at this point, that we’ve heard of, to homes.”