Nature is showing the country who is and no one is safe from its fury. The famed country music resort town of Branson, Missouri was among the latest to fall prey to nature's wrath. Strong spring-like storms built up over the heartland on Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. They whipped through Kansas, Missouri and Illinois without showing mercy.
Branson got struck by a huge funnel just as night gave way to morning around 1:00 a.m. So far, just 37 people are hurt. Thankfully, the injuries sustained were minor; mostly bruises and cuts. However, the last count isn't known as reports continue to come in.
As tornadoes often do, the Missouri monstrosity skipped throughout the area, picking up whatever it chose and destroying whatever it pleased. Homes, churches and businesses were all affected. Damage occurred to dozens of buildings, including some of those belonging to the Branson country music resort. It is there that country music's best often go to entertain an ever-growing crowd.
If there was in good news about the event, it was that the storm missed the tourist season. That's when Branson and surrounding towns become packed with thousands of visitors. The time of the tornado also helped cut down on the injured since people weren't out and about as they are during the day.
Bill Tirone, a manager connected with a Hilton Hotel in Branson said, "If it was a week later, it'd be a different story." Because the hotel wasn't full, they were able to get its occupants to safety as windows broke open to allow the winds to sweep furniture away.
Another business owner, John Moore, said that the funnel seemed intent on destroying the heart of the city. It followed a path down its main street, taking out the convention center. Then it moved to the entertainment district before jumping over the lake to attack housing districts on the other side. His Cakes-n-Creams business sustained damage while a nearby theater exploded.
Damage estimates will take time, but it looks in the range of millions of dollars. Whether Branson can put forth the kind of tourist season to which its guests have become accustomed is unknown. However, the town insists it will be ready for business as quickly as possible.
So far Branson, Missouri is reporting just three casualties. Surrounding states were not as lucky. At least six people died in southern Illinois.