Lives Turned Upside Down By Tornado In Branson

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BRANSON, Mo. -- Just as the high tourism season was gearing up in Branson, Missouri, a show-stopping tornado ripped through town Wednesday destroying everything in its path.

It did a number to Dick Clark's American Bandstand Theatre, tearing off the roof and gutting the inside.

"It's the beginning of the season and everyone is in rehearsals," said Robb Horton, the production manager at the theatre. "It's surreal. We just had it filled with people. "You just don't expect to see that type of force."

It was a force that forged a clear path. It destroyed building after building, tore down power lines and leveled numerous homes.

The vicious storm got the best of Shannon Edward's house, situated on top of a hill.

"We woke up to the windows shattering and imploding on us," said Edwards. "It was a pretty bad deal...it was pretty wild actually."

Edwards didn't wake up to the screaming sirens alerting people of the 1 a.m. tornado. However, once his home's windows began to shatter, he reacted swiftly and pulled his wife and baby into the bathroom.

"We walked out of it alright. No one was hurt," he said. "We got some glass in our feet, but other than that we're good."

City officials say there were no reported deaths or serious injuries.

Besides destroying homes, several of the hotels in Branson, like the Hilton and the Ozark Mountain Inn, suffered severe damage.

Out-of-towner, Marilyn Lansing, is grateful her motel, the Super 8, was outside of harm's way.

"I know we're fortunate," she said. "The Lord was with us."

Just hours after the storm, the recovery process began. The community united helping to clean up the mess.

Two shelter opened up, primarily housing the guests forced out of their hotel rooms. The Red Cross also was offering assistance to storm victims.

"This is a very resilient and  tight community and we all work together," said Horton, as he waited for insurance adjusters to come check out Dick Clark's.

After all, he knows better than anyone that in a town like Branson, the show must go on.

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