BRANSON, Mo. -- Nearly seven months, $20 milllion, and 3,400 panes of glass later, the building that once stood as a prominent symbol of the Leap Day tornado in Branson has now become a proud statement of recovery.
"We're up and open for business," said Bill Derbins, the General Manager for Hiltons of Branson.
More than 200 rooms had to be renovated, including new flooring, paint, and all new windows.
"It was terrifying, it really was. There was glass everywhere," said Andrea Reid, one of the hotel guests who survived the twister.
Reid and her husband Blake were two of the hotel guests who became heroes that day, carrying other visitors to safety.
"Me and the Marine were going through the hallways making sure nobody was stuck under anything," said Blake Reid.
Despite all the damage and broken glass, no one at the Hilton was seriously hurt.
Hotel managers said they learned important lessons about how to respond in times of crisis. Since the tornado hit in the middle of the night, only a skeleton crew was working, all of them away from their stationary weather radios. Now the crews rely on portable weather radios that they wear on their belts.
The tornado tore the roof off the second floor. The powerful winds blew glass into the corridors and doors off their hinges, making the hallways unsafe. Now, in cases of tornado warnings, guests will be instructed to take shelter in the bathrooms.
"The bathrooms in all the guest rooms, even the most severely damaged, were still in one piece," Derbins said.
Nearly 100 people lost their jobs at the Hilton following the twister. Many of them are now back at work. The Hilton has 25 positions open for housekeepers and another half dozens spots for restaurant employees.