Storms kill 21 across U.S.; 14 in Mo., 7 in Okla. and Ga.

RACINE, Mo. — The area around Bill and Jane Lant’s destroyed businesses was strewn this morning with wedding gowns, tuxedos and other apparel.

Surveying the wreckage of the bridal shop and the feed store the couple operated near Racine, about 15 miles south of Joplin, the Lants gave thanks that the tornado struck when it did, just about 15 minutes after the businesses closed. Otherwise the death toll from the twisters that struck Oklahoma and Missouri on Saturday evening could have been much worse.

Emergency crews still were assessing the damage today from the string of killer tornados that left at least 22 dead, including seven in Oklahoma, 14 in Missouri and one this morning in Georgia.

The storm system spawned at least eight tornados, some as powerful as EF3, according to the National Weather Service. The Enhanced Fujita scale goes up to EF5 and rates an EF3 tornado as capable of severe damage and 165 mph winds.

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