February 29, 2012 by staff
Branson Tornado, One person is dead, dozens are injured and some are trapped in their homes after a powerful storm system bearing a string of tornadoes battered Branson, a tourist hub, and a mobile home park in southwest Missouri. Three deaths more were reported Wednesday morning in Harrisburg, Ill., by local TV station, KFVS12. Harveyville, Kansas, was also struck by a tornado causing injuries and extensive damage.
Tornado warnings were issued early Wednesday morning for Kentucky as the severe weather moved eastward.
Rescue crews awaited sunrise Wednesday to begin scouring the trailer park south of Buffalo, Missouri, where at least one person was killed after an apparent tornado slammed the area overnight, Lt. Dana Eagan of the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office said.
The storm left another 13 people at the park injured and knocked out power to all of Buffalo, Eagan said. Buffalo is about 35 miles north of Springfield.
An apparent tornado left at least a dozen more people injured further south in Branson, trapping some people in their homes, National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Griffin.
Searchers were going from house to house early Wednesday, Taney County Sheriff Jimmie Russell. The National Weather Service typically sends teams in the hours and days following a storm of this size to determine if a tornado struck.
Griffin said the storm left a trail of destruction in downtown Branson, scattering the area with debris and uprooted road signs, and heavily damaging buildings in the city’s famous theater district.
Branson is one of the Midwest’s major tourist attractions, drawing millions each year to its theaters and amusement parks. Entertainers such as Andy Williams, comedian Yakov Smirnoff and Jim Stafford have settled in the city.
In neighboring Kansas, Gov. Sam Brownback declared a state of emergency late Tuesday after an apparent tornado struck Harveyville. The declaration covered Wabaunsee County, southwest of Topeka.
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