Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA) is calling on its franchisees to provide donations to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, many of whom have taken shelter at KOA campgrounds in the Gulf Coast region.
“We’d invite all KOA owners and staff to join us in this effort,” the Billings, Mont.-based company stated in an e-mailed news flash to KOA owners. “Needed items include soap, toothpaste and brushes, razors, shaving cream, wash cloths, towels, diapers, formula and any clothing.”
Donated items are to be sent directly to KOA campgrounds that are taking in refugees, including the KOAs in Baton Rouge, La., Shreveport, La., Lafayette, La., Hot Springs, Ark., and five KOAs in Texas, including Houston Central, Houston East, Houston West, Lake Livingston/Onalaska and Texarkana.
KOA headquarters has already sent personal care items directly to KOA campgrounds in the Gulf Coast region to help the hurricane victims. The KOA Owners Association also is providing aid to campgrounds that are taking in evacuees.
KOA campgrounds sustained varying levels of damage from the hurricane. Some, in fact, were so severely damaged they cannot be used. The following outlines the status of several KOA campgrounds through the hurricane zone, according to KOA’s news flash:
• Pensacola/Perdido Bay/Lillian, Ala., The campground lost a few cabins, but is open and operating.
• Hot Springs, Ark., KOA: There are displaced victims from the storms at the campground, with about 1,500 refugees staying in the community of Hot Springs.
• Milton/Gulf Pines, Fla., KOA: The campground is open and operating.
• Baton Rouge, La., KOA: The campground sustained some tree damage, with one building damaged and one RV crushed. The campground is open, and has some evacuees from the hurricane.
• Hammond, La., KOA: The campground is open, but there is no power and substantial damage. Hammond will be one of the home bases for FEMA workers in coming weeks.
• Lafayette, La., KOA: The campground did not lose power or phone service during the storm. They have at least 200 refugees staying at the park. Many campers who called to cancel reservations asked the campground to keep their deposits for the benefit of the refugees.
• New Orleans East KOA: The campground is closed. There is roof and siding damage to the main building, and the doors are swollen shut. There is still water on the campground, and the cabins were scattered, with one in the street. Mobile homes on the campground were destroyed. FEMA may also be using this campground as a staging area.
• New Orleans West KOA: Owners Dick and Marianne Fedderman have been staying at the Houston East/Bayton KOA. They have been unable to confirm the condition of their campground, but believe there has been major damage.
• Shreveport, La., KOA: About 200 people displaced by the storm are living on the campground. Communications are spotty, but the campground is functional.
• Laurel, Miss., KOA: The campground has no electricity or water, and several trees are down. The campground is closed, and the owners are not on the property. It may be a month before services are restored.
• Meridian East/Topomsuba, Miss., KOA: Trees are down and two cabins were crushed, but there were no injuries. There is no electricity, but evacuees are staying at the campground. It is officially closed.