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Bonne Terre soldier, girlfriend safe

At home in Bonne Terre, Doris Worley wonders what’s next for her son Matthew stationed at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss. He rode out the hurricane in a shelter on base.

“He’s there for training, but he may be re-directed to clean-up duty,” she said. “The base is about a half mile off Biloxi’s beach. He can call us, but we can’t call him. He hasn’t seen the damage. Fifty-percent of the base is underwater. There’s no power. The water was contaminated and they were eating MREs (Meals Ready To Eat) until they got a hot meal Wednesday night.”

Debbie Bignall has dated Matthew for three years and had been visiting him when she received a message on her hotel room phone Sunday morning.

“They said they were closing at 11 a.m.,” she said. “Our moms had been calling and were freaking us out about the hurricane. We’d been watching the weather channel and it showed it coming our way.”

At the Best Western Swan on Biloxi’s Beach Blvd., people started moving fast. So, Bignall packed her car to come home alone. It was hard to leave Matthew behind.

“It was a gorgeous day, but as I drove out of town, the traffic was really heavy and even in the slow lane, you had to go 70 to keep up,” she said. “Everything was backed up all the way to Jackson (Miss.)”

She stopped just over the Mississippi line to rest a bit and then resumed her 11-hour drive home. By the time she got there, the hurricane had hit the place she left behind. It wasn’t until the next morning, on TV, she saw what had happened to the city where she’d been just 24 hours before.

“It looked so different. Everything was falling apart and there was water everywhere,” said Bignall. “I’m glad I took my Mom’s advice – for once – and got out of there when I did.”

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