BRANSON, Mo. — It’s been six years since a devastating tornado ripped down the Branson Strip, severely damaging and destroying some businesses.
The main tourist season is fast approaching and hotels and businesses are once again opening their doors.
Fifteen years ago, before the tornado hit Branson, the National Weather Service certified the city as “storm ready” because of emergency preparedness measures already in place.
Branson Fire Chief Ted Martin says upgrades to the system are ongoing.
“We work in partnership with the National Weather Service to continue to improve systems to receive watches and warnings with information that they disseminate to us,” said Martin. “Also how we disseminate information to our local citizens and visitors alike. And also, the third step is good educational programs to inform our residents, our businesses how to be prepared for severe weather.”
Chief Martin says since the Branson tornado, business structures have improved, citywide. “Most all of the properties that were affected by the leap day tornado have either rebuilt or redeveloped. There’s just a few holes left.”
Marilyn Mahoney and her husband own the Grand Oaks Hotel, near the strip, one of the structures that were greatly affected by that tornado. She explained why their building is storm ready.
“We had about 35 people staying in the hotel that night,” said Mahoney. “Every car was turned upside down. I had installation gravel all over the parking lot. But luckily, the hotel is pre-stressed concrete brick and we had hurricane clamps on the roof.”
Mahoney says another way businesses owners can be prepared in case severe weather hits, is to make sure they have good insurance.