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Harlan couple's wedding photo found 90 miles away after home destroyed by tornado

Shelby County supervisor says storm-ravaged farms need USDA help as soon as possible
Posted at 9:45 PM, May 17, 2024

HARLAN, Iowa (KMTV) — After George and Julie Langenfeld lost their rural Harlan home in the tornadoes on April 26, their wedding photo popped up on a lost-and-found social media page. Someone found the wedding photo, which hung on a wall in their home, approximately 90 miles to the northeast near Fonda.

  • Despite losing his house, and severe damage to the family farm now run by his son, George Langenfeld remains upbeat: “That’s why I love the Midwest. People still help each other."
  • Neighbors in Shelby County will need lots of help to recover. FEMA is on the ground already, but Chairman of the Shelby County Board of Supervisors Steve Kenkel says they’re still waiting on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to begin the process of aiding farmers.
  • "But now it’s time for the farmers to make decisions on their operations and what they can afford to do ... and without that piece from the USDA, they’re still in limbo,” said Kenkel.

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT:

This is all that’s left of George and Julie’s Langenfeld’s dream home.

I’m your Southwest Iowa neighborhood reporter, Katrina Markel, just outside Harlan in Shelby County and I’m here because I wanted to find out how this rural county is faring three weeks after the tornadoes.

This is the second time I’ve met George Langenfeld and — despite his huge loss — he’s always been upbeat.

“I went to a restaurant the other night and I went to pay the bill and it was paid,” said Langenfeld.

Quick, to see acts of kindness in his neighbors near and pretty far away.

A wedding photo that had been hanging on the Langenfelds wall, survived the storm when little else did.

It traveled roughly 90 miles north to Fonda.

Someone who had a cousin who knew the Langenfelds spotted the photo on social media — and now they’ve got it back.

“That’s why I love the Midwest. People still help each other,” said Langenfeld.

And they’ll need lots of help. FEMA is on the ground in Shelby County meeting with tornado-affected neighbors but, board of supervisors chair, Steve Kenkel, says they’re still waiting on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to begin the process of aiding farmers.

"But now it’s time for the farmers to make decisions on their operations and what they can afford to do ... and without that piece from the USDA, they’re still in limbo,” said Kenkel.

Seventy-four farmsteads were hit by the tornadoes in Shelby County, over an approximately 30-mile stretch — including the Langenfelds’ — now operated by their son, Trevor.

Kenkel estimates county farm losses are above $100 million, which is why he wants to see the USDA not delay on helping the county.

“So now, they’re trying to get loans to rebuild. And they’re not getting any revenue in now. Some have employees ... they really need the help.”

George told me his son would be finishing up planting this weekend, late, but…

“Hopefully everything works out. Mother Nature’s been a bear here so far.”

I plan on keeping in touch with the Langenfelds and Shelby County Officials as tornado recovery progresses. Outside Harlan, I’m your southwest Iowa neighborhood reporter, Katrina Markel.