WATCH: Water main break forces NDSU fraternity members out of house
FARGO — A water main break forced 23 fraternity members out of their house at North Dakota State University during their winter break. Second-floor residents still can't return, but they said they're using the experience as an opportunity to help people experiencing homelessness in the Fargo-Moorhead area.
NDSU's Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter president Chad Blank got news of the leak on New Years Day while on a family trip to Washington state — just three hours after officially assuming his new position.
"It was 3:00 a.m. there when I got the call," Blank said. "I woke up right away because I was sent photos."
At the house in Fargo, alarms woke up fraternity members. Blank said it was triggered by low water pressure.
A PVC pipe in the attic leaked, froze and burst a few hours earlier. Members took pictures of the water dripping down the stairs and seeping through the walls.
"It was just kind of a trickle down effect," Blank said. "The second floor definitely had it the worst, just because it had the most water."
The thin layer of water coated the second floor of the two-floor building. As a precautionary measure, workers are taking everything out of the walls from the knees down, making sure no permanent water damage sets in.
This means drywall, insulation, carpet and wood has to be torn out and replaced. Blank is hopeful they can finish repairs by the beginning of summer.
Until then, the 23 fraternity brothers who lived here have to find space in rented town homes and apartments. They can still have meetings and events on the first floor, but the second floor is taken up by repair work.
The fraternity has taken their experience as an opportunity to help people without homes in the Fargo-Moorhead area.
"Just yesterday, we assembled 200 care packages, goodie bags," Blank said.
The fraternity packed boxes of l ip balm, toiletries, winter gear, snacks and other supplies local shelters asked for. They said their hope is to turn being driven out of their house into a positive experience, helping the people who need help most.
The chapter house is insured. They're still working to see if the company will fully cover repair costs.