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    'It's a waiting game': Frustrations as tornado recovery slow for Iowa farmers

    By Katrina Markel,

    2024-06-12
    https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=33beE3_0toL4KrG00

    Governor Kim Reynolds visited storm-damaged communities in Western Iowa on Tuesday to learn more about where help is needed. In Shelby County, farmers want to move forward, but it's hard without knowing what their insurance and federal benefits will be.

    • The slow pace of recovery, including how long it takes to get paperwork from insurance companies, is frustrating for neighbors in Shelby and Pottawattamie Counties.
    • Without the proper insurance paperwork, storm victims can't move forward with getting federal help.
    • "It's just a process, and I think that's what we talked about, right? Every individual agency requires a different form to fill out," said the governor.
    • "FEMA is great, but it's a government program, it's a waiting game," said Dianne Langenfeld, whose family farm took a direct hit from the tornado that tore through Shelby County.

    BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT:

    Governor Kim Reynolds visited storm-damaged communities in Western Iowa on Tuesday to learn more about where help is needed. I asked her about the slow pace of recovery.

    I'm your southwest Iowa neighborhood reporter Katrina Markel at the Harlan Airport – her first stop.

    Reynolds met with Shelby County Supervisor Steve Kenkel, and other officials, at the Harlan airport before traveling to other storm-affected communities. She got an update on recovery efforts.

    Kenkel: "And how do we take a devastating event like this, a tragic event, and build back better?"

    Reynolds: "And build back better"

    In Shelby and Pottawattamie Counties, a common refrain: there's too much red tape and it takes too long to get help.

    Standing on what remains of their machine shed, that's true for Trevor and Dianne Langenfeld.

    "More than anything, I'm just more frustrated with insurance at the pace we're going at 'cause I'd like to be a lot further, but it is what it is at this point," said Trevor.

    Neighbors need insurance paperwork complete before they can receive federal help.

    "It's just a process, and I think that's what we talked about, right? Every individual agency requires a different form to fill out," said the governor.

    Reynolds says she'd like to see the process of applying for federal aid streamlined.

    "FEMA is great, but it's a government program, it's a waiting game," said Dianne.

    Farmers, of course, are on a seasonal schedule.

    I first met the Langenfelds a week after the tornado. Now, their crops are planted, one of their four tractors is repaired, but they can't raise hogs this year and they're not sure if all the equipment and grain bins will be back by harvest time.

    "It's going to take a while to get as many bins as were destroyed in this county back up," Trevor said.

    Kenkel hopes to find opportunities for farmers to strengthen their operations in the long run: "They had loans on buildings that were destroyed and now you're asking them to come and take loans out again?"

    After Harlan, the governor stopped in Minden, Corning and Greenfield. I was in Minden last week where I learned local businesses are hoping to rebuild. But insurance adjustors haven't finished appraising the damage and, as a result, federal programs can't yet be accessed.

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