BRANSON, MO (KTVI) - Local community leaders in Branson, Missouri want people around the country to know Branson is NOT closed.
The airport is open, Silver Dollar City is fine and many of the other big attractions and lodging were not impacted by the storm. Officials do suggest you call ahead to make sure your particular hotel or venue is open before traveling this way.
The main strip along Highway 76 in Branson was on lock down early Thursday morning with a dusk to dawn curfew in effect. At first light clean-up efforts were ramping up quickly. There is a lot to be done here to get ready for prime tourism season that starts with Spring Break in just a couple of weeks. That`s not nearly as important as the fact that amid so much damage, no lives were hurt. It could have been so much worse.
Several of the older hotels along the strip suffered major damage. At the Blue Bayou motor in, much of the top two stories was ripped off by the tornado. While there were 60 people inside, none of them suffered serious injuries. That story played out all along the strip as people dove for cover between beds and in hallways.
The Branson Landing area of downtown was hard hit. The Hilton hotel saw many of its windows blown out by the twisting winds with furniture sucked into violent storm.
About a half dozen of the 40 theatres in town suffered moderate to major damage. Those included The Legends Theater, the Andy Williams Moon River Theater and the Branson Variety Theater. In addition, the Veterans` memorial museum also suffered major damage.