Entries in Tornadoes (2)


Branson, Missouri: After Tornado, Tourists Welcomed

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(BRANSON, Mo.) -- Photos of tornado damage in Branson, Mo., show wrecked cars and smashed buildings, but the show must go on in the entertainment center.

The debris had barely settled when the town’s public relations team distributed a press release titled: ”Branson recovery already underway after brush with tornado.”

Branson, which has a population of about 10,000 according to the U.S. Census, had a close encounter with a tornado earlier on Wednesday.  Gary Groman, media relations for Branson, which is called the Midwest’s music theater capital, said the population of the town can swell to hundreds of thousands of people on the weekends.

The “Branson strip,” which refers to the theaters, restaurants and other attractions along the part of Highway 76 that runs through the town, was open on Thursday though it was closed the day before, Groman said.

About four or more of the town’s 50 theaters were hit by the tornado, he said, while the vast majority were not badly damaged.

About a dozen of the 200-plus hotels in the town “have sustained significant damage as a result of the storms,” but the Branson Airport was unaffected by the storms, Branson’s Convention and Visitors’ Bureau said.

The Branson Variety Theater is closed pending repairs, and a spokeswoman said ticket holders can call the theater for a refund or make arrangements to attend another time.  The Americana Theatre is closed for repairs and its calls are being re-routed to the RFD-TV theater, which hosts the Roy Rogers, Jr. show.

Trey Pelz, the general manager of the RFD-TV theater said the majority of shows and hotels in Branson are still open for business.

“The town is at about 80 percent and within a month or two, we’ll be back to 100 percent,” Pelz said.

The release stated that major attractions such as Silver Dollar City, Sight and Sound Theatre, and Showboat Branson Belle, TITANIC Museum Attraction, Tanger Outlet Mall, and numerous theatres, attractions, restaurants and retail stores are “undamaged and remain open and [welcome] visitors to the Live Music Show Capital of the World.”

“We are extremely thankful that there was no reported loss of life due to the tornado that struck Branson on the morning of February 29, and 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,” Branson’s city administrator, Dean Kruithof, said in the statement.´╗┐

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Death Tornado Destroys Supplies of Gas, Water, Electricity

Alex Stone/ABC News(TUSCALOOSA, Al.) -- Lethal tornadoes that killed more than 300 people in Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and three other southern states also have destroyed or damaged power plants, power lines, gas stations and water supplies.

More than 1 million people are without electricity. Thousands are homeless or without fuel or safe drinking water. Three nuclear power plants have shut down and are offline.

Natural gas supplier Alagasco said in an announcement that as of Thursday night it had responded to more than 1,800 calls from customers reporting leaks. The company suspended service to many customers until leaks can be repaired. Some 2,000 Tuscaloosa gas customers have been affected.

Survivors mobbed grocery stores and gasoline stations. An Exxon station ran out of gas by mid-morning Thursday. Other stations saw long lines of cars waiting for their pumps. Some shut because of damage or put up signs announcing they were closed.

Clay Ingram, public relations director for the AAA of Alabama, agrees: "Gasoline availability has improved dramatically today with the return of electrical service to a big portion of the affected areas, including Tuscaloosa, Decatur, Cullman and north Birmingham," he said in an e-mail. "Huntsville is still struggling with power outages. Many gas stations in the affected areas have acquired portable generators in order to be able to use the gas pumps and this has helped in a big way."

The storm badly damaged Tennessee Valley Authority power lines and transmission towers throughout the region. More than 120 power poles or steel structures were damaged, according to TVA. As of Friday morning, emergency crews had repaired and returned to service 14 lines out of 70 affected. Some 612,000 homes and businesses still remain without electricity.

At TVA's Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant, all three units of the 3,274-megawatt facility remain shut down, after storms damaged electric lines supplying energy to their reactors. Emergency diesel generators automatically kicked in, resupplying the loss.

The three Browns Ferry reactors have nearly as much radioactive fuel between them as do Fukushima's six reactors. Browns Ferry—second biggest supplier of nuclear power in the United States—may remain offline for weeks, or until transmission lines taking power from it to surrounding areas are repaired.

In one part of Tuscaloosa, drug stores, shopping malls, dry cleaners, and other commercial establishments were flattened. A nearby coal mine also suffered damage. Elsewhere in the region, 200 chicken houses holding 4 million chickens were destroyed.

Factories in the region have been closed and manufacturing suspended at plants belonging to Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Mercedes and Toyota.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐

ABC News Radio