East Biloxi wakes up to Hurricane Zeta’s damage

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Many people in South Mississippi woke up this morning with clearly visible signs of damage left in Hurricane Zeta’s wake.

After a tumultuous night of wind, rain, and storm surge unleashed by Hurricane Zeta, the sun began to rise Thursday morning, shedding light on widespread debris and damage.

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Sirens, mangled signs, shattered, dangling traffic lights all around riddled with whipping wind. Biloxi resident Shelley Zabatini practically had a front row seat as she rode out the storm on Myrtle Street, just north of Harrah’s Gulf Coast and the beach.  “You can see the boat. There’s a boat laying over here now.”

But glad on this morning, she is a storm survivor. “I rode out the storm. There was a lot of wind, a lot of debris, a lot of water, everything flying around. The water came up so quickly. It went all the over to the fire department over here. It was about three feet over here. I was scared. Really, I was just worried about the house actually going down. That’s really what worried me the most.”

But Zabatini, her stilted home and South Mississippi, all still standing. “It was so awful. I drove my car over there. I had to sit in my car while everything was flying around. I saw trees and stuff flying. It was a mess.”

In recovery mode and moving forward despite the damage, reflecting the same resilient spirit that has shined through over the years in South Mississippi, especially when disaster strikes. “This is a way of life down here. That’s what we do, pick up the pieces and keep going on.”

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Toni started at WXXV News 25 in December of 2013, just three months after the news was launched. She has served as Assignment Editor, anchored for nearly two years, worked as a reporter for several years and hosted Coastal Connections for more than four years. Toni graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Southern Mississippi where she was editor of the Student Printz. She then did an internship on Capitol Hill, working for a U.S. Senator, then returned to Mississippi as a reporter at WDAM in Hattiesburg. After that, she moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, working as a reporter for FOX 25 in Biloxi, then crossing city lines to work at WLOX-TV news in Biloxi, starting out as a producer, then working as a photographer, reporter, weekend assignment editor and weekend anchor. She was among the station team that won the Edward Murrow and Peabody awards for coverage during Hurricane Katrina. Toni moved to the Lone Star State where she worked as the morning and noon anchor, investigative reporter and live shot reporter for KZTV Action 10 News, then KRIS TV News in Corpus Christi, Texas. Toni moved back to the Magnolia State to be with and take care of her family, working as a multi-media journalist and fill-in anchor at WDBD Fox 40 news in Jackson. After almost completing a second degree in filmmaking at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast, Toni transitioned back to news at News 25. Toni is blessed to have a wonderful support network of close family, friends and mentors, and she hopes to pay it forward. She has a three-legged chiweenie named Rocky Balboa because of his fighting spirit. She loves writing and has completed a novel that has been adapted into a screenplay, and has just finished another screenplay called "Delta Rose." She's currently working on a new legal thriller called "Fall From Grace." Stay tuned....