Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Massive storm system rips across midwest, at least 11 tornados wreak havok

Might not look like much, but that's a picture of home: Branson, Missouri. That's what we call the 76 "strip"- essentially the Ozark Mountain equivalent of the Las Vegas "strip." It's the tourism lifeblood of the area and is a primary source of employment for locals. I know, because I've worked in restaurants all over that strip. Like any tourist town, there's the good, the bad and the ugly. But it's still politically and religiously the epicenter (if you will) of the Bible Belt, and one of the country music capitals of the midwest. Besides that, we locals know: it's damn good fishing, damn good hunting country.

As attached to that home as I am, even living abroad, I'm still a bit shell shocked to think of the devastation caused by last night's tornado. The tornado ripped right across Branson and trekked along the entire breadth of the strip. It then continued through Branson West and wiped out part of the incredibly scenic Kimberling City. The storm damage is still yet to be determined- as the area is more sparse and rural than you might first assume. So far, 3 in Missouri are reported dead from Buffalo, Puxico and Cassville. The AP reports that there are 37 injured.

The storm that hit Missouri was part of a powerful storm system that left a path of destruction across Illinois, Kansas and parts of northern Arkansas that have killed at least 12 people. For information on Branson recovery efforts check here and here for updates. It seems for the time being, the city is trying not to panic people into canceling their vacations to Branson. The tourist season typically kicks off next week. Nonetheless, lets hope at least a good deal of jobs for locals comes out of this, fixing everything up!

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