Connie Rockco had been a Harrison County supervisor for about six years when Hurricane Katrina slammed into Mississippi. The highway along the coast was decimated, crucial bridges were knocked down and residents were left without running water or electricity. Rockco was up all night fielding calls from desperate residents trapped on their roofs or in their attics.
“Do you know how that feels? To have people begging you for help, and you cannot help them?” she says. Harrison organized rescue and relief efforts as the county began its slow and grueling recovery.
Katrina was just one of many challenges Rockco has faced during her nearly 18 years as a county supervisor. She also helped oversee the response to the 2010 BP oil spill, and she endured a local political scandal that saw two of her fellow council members indicted and one other commit suicide. Rockco had planned to serve only two terms, she says, but felt she could not abandon her post during such difficult times.
“I was determined. I could not leave my house in disarray,” she says. “So here I am now in my fifth term.”