February 29, 2012 by staff
Midwest Storms, A powerful storm system that produced multiple reports of tornadoes lashed the Midwest early Wednesday, roughing up the country music resort city of Branson and laying waste to a small town in Kansas. At least four people were killed in Illinois and Missouri.
An apparent twister rolled through Branson just before 1 a.m. and seemed to hopscotch up the city’s main roadway, ripping roofs off hotels and damaging some of the city’s famed music theaters dangerously close to the start of the heavy tourism season. More than 30 people were reported hurt, mostly with cuts and bruises.
“If it was a week later, it’d be a different story,” said Bill Tirone, assistant general manager for the 530-room Hiltons of Branson and the Branson Convention Center, where windows were shattered and some rooms had furniture sucked away by high winds. Hotel workers were able to get all guests to safety as the storm raged.
John Moore, owner of the damaged Cakes-n-Creams ’50s Diner, said the tornado seemed to target the city’s main strip, moving down the entertainment district, right through the convention center, across a lake and into a housing division. He said the tornado appeared to “jump side to side.”
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