Operation Playground

Hurricane Katrina: Five years later

For the past five years, Gulf area residents have struggled to rebuild roads, homes, schools and businesses devastated by Katrina. To help rebuild childhoods, national non-profit KaBOOM! launched Operation Playground, and through it channeled more than $9,975,000 into the Gulf and mobilized 31,325 volunteers to build playgrounds in the areas hit hardest by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

In New Orleans, on August 26th and 27th, to commemorate the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, KaBOOM! is building its 135th and 136th playgrounds in the Gulf since the storms.

With the generous support of funders such as Jim and Donna Barksdale, The Home Depot Foundation, Marriott, Playworld Systems Inc., Fannie Mae, NBA Cares, the DJR Foundation, AmeriCares, the Walt Disney Company and ING DIRECT, KaBOOM! has given 90,156 children from Houston to Mobile a place to play every day and just be kids.

While every KaBOOM! playground build is an inspiring event, those in honor of the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina give volunteers a special chance to reflect on the storms’ impact while they work to renew their neighborhoods. KaBOOM! playground builds transform empty lots into colorful new playgrounds in just one day, making tangible progress that sparks neighbors to take on the larger problems the region continues to face.

Operation Playground highlights

Operation Playground To commemorate the year-mark of Hurricane Katrina, KaBOOM!, The Home Depot Foundation, Playworld Systems and Hands On Network mobilized thousands of volunteers to build ten playgrounds in just four days, Aug. 28-31, 2006.
Operation Playground In February 2006, we partnered with Fannie Mae to build six playgrounds in just one day at New Orleans schools.
Operation Playground In May 2007, "Live with Regis and Kelly" supported our 50th playground build at Dr. Charles R. Drew Elementary School, a 600-student campus located in the Bywater neighborhood of New Orleans. See videos here.
Operation Playground On June 14, 2008, KaBOOM! built our 100th playground in the Gulf Coast in Bay St. Louis where the initiative began. See the ABC News report.

Stories from the Gulf

"Drew Elementary sustained significant flooding and damage from Hurricane Katrina, and as a result the students and staff were displaced for well over a year... It was the first school in the hurricane impact zone to reopen, and remains the only open Elementary school in the Bywater area. But the school and the surrounding neighborhood is in dire need of one very important thing....a playground for the students and children. Currently, the only play space is a large area behind Drew Elementary with potholes, buckling asphalt and the remnants of what used to be a basketball court." Read more.

"I got to know a woman whose actions and attitude demonstrate a passion unique to New Orleanians. Michelean, a 32 year old mother… explained that her family lived in the city for generations and had a hard time after the storm. They tried to settle elsewhere but found it was much hard than expected. Leaving New Orleans was just too difficult. Michelean returned committed to restoring her community. I believe she currently works two jobs. After everything she and her family has been through, she seems to have remained confident and continues to give herself and her time generously. I really admire Michelean’s commitment, selflessness, and optimism. Talking with her helped to make Saturday special, and strengthened my desire to help the New Orleans community." Read more.

Do you have stories from the Gulf? Please share them below!