Greek life houses recover after tornado

The Kappa Alpha Theta house is currently under construction due to the tornado that passed through over summer break. (Elizabeth Sandstrom | Collegian Media Group)

Editor’s note: The original date listed in the article was June 16, 2022. This date was incorrect, as this was the date the National Weather Service announced that an EF2 tornado did touch down. The correct date, June 11, is the date the tornado actually touched down. We apologize for the incorrect date, and have fixed the article to reflect the correct date.

Disaster struck Manhattan on June 11, 2022 after the city was hit by an EF2 tornado. Sorority houses, Kappa Alpha Theta, also known as Theta, and Chi Omega were damaged by strong winds and declared condemned, according to The Manhattan Mercury. 

Chi Omega’s house mother, Jan Tidball, was called to the scene after receiving a call from the police. 

“I got a call from the police department, and they wanted me to come over so they could put up signs to say the house was condemned,” Tidball said. “After that it was time to get a contractor in.”

Tidball said she has lived in Chi Omega for the last three years in her own small apartment, but she moved into her own home due to the damage from debris and glass.

“I feel sad that I am not there,” Tidball said. “I miss the girls and miss knowing the girls are there and eating meals with them.” 

Claire Meerian, senior in accounting and Theta president, received a text about the storm and its damage to the house while residing in her hometown for summer vacation.

“I got a text that basically said the Theta house was hit,” Meerian said. “My initial response is that they were joking. I then saw videos from people who were there, and it was a huge shock, I couldn’t believe it.”

Meerian lived in the Theta house the previous two years and planned on living there again as a senior. However, the storm forced Meerian and her sorority sisters to change their plans for the 2022-2023 school year.

“It was stressful thinking about finding a new place,” Meerian said. “I was stressed for all of my girls, especially my sophomores because they may have had a harder time finding somewhere to live.” 

Mackenzie Waggoner, junior in agriculture communications and journalism, also planned on living at the Theta house this year. Waggoner said she did not realize the severity of the situation until she saw the house in person. 

“I came up to Manhattan for work and drove past the house, that was when it hit me that we were really going to have to move and figure something out,” Waggoner said. 

Meerian said Theta’s advisors worked hard to relocate the sorority and eventually settled on the abandoned Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity house as a temporary home for Theta. 

‘’We contacted ATO’s leaser, and we are owned by a facility housing corporation, so they were able to get that all worked out for us,” Meerian said. 

Meerian said adjusting to life in a fraternity house was strange, but she is happy with how the situation turned out because all the girls still get to live together. 

“It was difficult because it is built for fraternity members not sorority members so we had to get acclimated to all the extra space,” Meerian said. “I am really thankful that we are in it because we are all together in one place, and we can have all of our events.”