To Cathy Wallace, the earthquakes that have been rattling her tidy suburban home in Dallas feel like underground thunderstorms. First comes a distant roar, then a boom and a jolt. Her house shakes, and the windows shudder. Framed prints on the walls clatter and tilt. A heavy glass vase tips over with a crash.
The worst moments are the ones between the rumble and the impact. “Every time it happens you know it’s going to hit, but you don’t know how severe it’s going to be,” she says. “Is this going to be a bigger one? Is this the part where my house falls down? It’s scary. It’s very scary.”
Until 2008 not a single earthquake had ever been recorded by the U.S. Geological Survey from the Dallas–Fort Worth (DFW) area, where Wallace has lived for more than 20 years. Since then, close to 200 have shaken the cities and their immediate suburbs. Statewide, Texas is experiencing a sixfold increase in earthquakes over historical levels. Oklahoma has seen a 160-fold spike in quakes, some of which have sent people to hospitals and damaged buildings and highways. In 2014 the state’s earthquake rate surpassed California’s.