The lights are on again on Branson's strip

BRANSON, Mo. - Repair work continues Friday in Branson, two days after an EF2 tornado seemed to target the resort town's main strip, damaging popular theaters and attractions.

Power has been restored to the majority of the city, including W 76 Country Boulevard – commonly referred to as the "Branson Strip" -- and utility crews were working around the clock to get service restored to those still in the dark.

According to city tourism officials, only six of the city's more than 50 theaters were damaged. Most shows will open soon or are already open.

Frank and Colleen Schlesinger got to see a show Thursday night. They aren't surprised. They come 10 or 12 times a year and even came 35 years ago for their honeymoon.

"This town will come back," Frank said. "No doubt....some of the businesses might not come back but some will and most of them plan to with the signs you see."

One of those signs hung just across the street, where the manager of The Outback Pub propped a makeshift sign of plywood and spray-paint. 'We're Open' it read.

The spot largely supported by locals was full Thursday night.

One of those locals, Daniel Schaedel, isn't surprised to see Branson's quick turnaround either. "It's profitable here, people are friendly and appreciative of everything they have and everybody they get to meet."

Twenty-two Branson hotels were damaged by the twister, some minor and others more significant. The Branson Chamber of Commerce says the tornado did not substantially affected the town's lodging capacity, and the majority of the more than 18,000 hotel and motel rooms remain open for business.

A list of scheduled opening dates for shows, attractions and hotels can be found at www.ExploreBranson.com.

Most shops and restaurants at Branson Landing, the town's busy outdoor shopping area which saw significant damage, were expected to reopen Friday. Bass Pro Shops and Belk were already open on Thursday.

The storm in Branson caused 33 injuries, ranging from minor to moderate, but no fatalities.

"We are extremely thankful that there was no reported loss of life due to the tornado," city Administrator Dean Kruithof said.

Branson escaped only with damage to property and minor injuries, but others affected by the same storm system weren't so lucky.

Thirteen people died from the storms that slammed the country's midsection Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. Three of the deaths occurred in Missouri, six were reported in Illinois, three in Tennessee and one in Kansas.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to those families who did lose loved ones as a result of this large storm system that affected much of the Midwest," Kruithof said.
 

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