BRANSON, Mo. — Two months later and some businesses in Branson look like they did two days after what was dubbed "the leap day tornado outbreak."
Although some businesses took a hit on the landing the most damage happened on the strip. In some cases the hold-up with clean-up is an insurance issue, but at least one long-time Branson businesses wishes that was it.
"We've been here almost 17 years," says Jeannie Gamble.
The Branson Heights Flea Market was home to her family-- and their five separate families; her mom and dad, two sisters and brother. There hearts were there too.
"Mom and dad started that store for us kids and then we lost mom to cancer. So when the store went my daughter said that's like losing my last touch with grandma," explains Gamble, standing outside a fence that surrounds the strip mall that houses what's left of the flea market.
It still hurts Gamble to see her "home" in shambles; the fact it's not coming back hurts more.
"The families that own the shopping center are going to eventually tear it down and totally rebuild it but they said it's going to take about a year."
Gamble's family can't wait a year for those families. 150 vendors rented space inside the flea market, and they'll go elsewhere. Most of the businesses in the strip mall already have, but no insurance means for gamble that's not an option.
52 commercial properties in branson were affected by the tornado and they're pretty divided in the repair process. About a quarter of them or 14 properties are nearly finished with repairs and they're open for business. A little less than half the properties- 22- have submitted permits currently under review. That last quarter or 13 properties are like Gamble's; the city has had contact with them but nothing's happened yet.
"Some of those may just be waiting on insurance because the insurance will pay for clean up also," explains Garrett Anderson, but the Branson Economic Development Director admits the Branson Heights Flea Market isn't alone.
"It's likely some will not be coming back. Some have already gotten permits to demolish the building and will not be rebuilding," says Anderson.
In the company of others Gamble has never felt so alone; she says it's like being homeless.
"It's not easy," Gamble concludes.
Gamble and one of her sisters are looking for other jobs in hopes of making enough money to open a smaller flea market. They've found a building about a third of the size of the original.
The Branson tourism season officially kicked off in mid-March, and there may be a silver lining; the numbers haven't been released yet but the city expects tourist dollars were up that month because of the tornado.