10 years and counting.

Tom Matthews and Connie Rocko, as they read the resolution/Photo by Keith Walters In the agonizing aftermath of Katrina, the people of Harrison County needed assistance, but lacked manpower and resources. From day one, Livingston CARES volunteers made their own way, says Connie Rocko, Harrison County district administrator.

That was 2006. This morning, the group joined the board of supervisors at the Harrison County Courthouse to be recognized for completing Livingston CARES’s 10-year commitment of service to the people of Biloxi.

Members of the local government, media and volunteers listened as Rockco, passed a resolution of thanks.

Students were asked to stand, and were met with a room of applause.

The ceremony struck an emotional chord with Tom Matthews, who has facilitated 35 trips to this area.

“Ten years ago this very week, we were in this same room when Connie Rockco was first elected president of the board of supervisors,” he said. ”We also presented that resolution from the Livingston County Board of supervisors as a promise to Biloxi at that time.”

“We’ve completed our commitment of 10 years, but our board of directors have voted to continue the relationship.”

Volunteers returned to the Back Bay Mission, where they contributed to clean-up and maintenance work needed on the grounds, and heard about work that begins tomorrow on two homes in Biloxi.

Ten years after the storm, direct rebuilding from Katrina has finished; work focuses on repairs and upgrades for elderly and lower-income residents who otherwise wouldn’t be able to maintain their homes, says Craig Steenkamp, housing development director for Back Bay Mission.

Hurricane Camille took 30 years to recover from, says Rocko. Katrina? Will be much longer. The economy, tax base, employment, tourism, skyrocketed insurance rates and other factors deeply impacted the county, she says. All work is really recovery, she says.

Students later gathered at the beach to watch the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico, before making stir-fry dinner for the group, followed by a first discussion of their reflections so far.

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