Hurricane Katrina surged near New Orleans on August 29, 2006 as a category 5 hurricane. Despite a mandate from Mayor Ray Nagin, many people struggled through the storm, as they had done during multiple hurricanes in the past. The death toll has been confirmed at over 1600 people, with hundred more missing. With thousands left displaced from their homes, volunteers from churches, colleges, non-profits, and other organizations began to help rebuild the city. Efforts ranged from hands-on deconstruction and reconstruction of damaged homes to donations of food and clothing.
Members of the Kenyon College community traveled down to New Orleans for a week each of their winter and spring breaks. In January, forty-three students and staff members rode a bus down into New Orleans proper, living in community homes, and working with the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana to help individual families rebuild their homes and their lives. Fifty-nine students and staff members returned in March, living at a FEMA-supported camp, and working with families throught the Episcopal Diocese.