AP journalists from Kentucky and beyond responded to June 28’s torrential rainfall and historic flooding with a remarkable run of enterprise work spun from the breaking news, telling the deeper stories behind the tragedy in poignant and authoritative text, photos and video.
The AP led with sweeping, insightful coverage, offering detail, intimacy and context that can only come from familiarity with the landscape and its people. Among the highlights:
— Kentucky statehouse reporter Bruce Schreiner teamed up with reporters Anita Snow and Andrew Selsky to examine the impact of the devastation on one of the nation’s most impoverished regions.
— Charleston, West Virginia, reporter Leah Willingham coordinated with Atlanta-based photographer Brynn Anderson and multiformat national writer Allen Breed to tell the human stories of lives lost in the storm and the grim task faced by survivors left to bury their dead.
— Schreiner and Anderson captured the grueling days put in by rescue and recovery teams.
— Kentucky multiformat journalist Dylan Lovan explored the decisions faced by people who have long stuck it out in a region that has lost much of its population during the coal industry's rapid decline. And at the end of a long week, Breed delivered a striking multimedia package on the devastation in the tiny coal town of Fleming-Neon.
— Schreiner, Snow and Kentucky-based freelance photographer Tim Easley chronicled the irreplaceable losses of Appalshop, a renowned cultural center in Whitesburg, Ky.
— Schreiner and West Virginia colleague John Raby reported how damaged infrastructure was hampering response and recovery efforts.
Visual journalists captured both the emotional scope of the tragedy and the dignity of people whose lives were upended by the storm. Anderson and Easley delivered dozens of compelling images in the storm’s aftermath, while Lovan, Breed and Ohio-based video journalist Patrick Orsagos produced an impressive range of video. Other members of the Appalachia team kept AP’s wire current on daily developments, notably Rebecca Reynolds, Beth Campbell and John Raby, in a true collaborative effort.
The work earned heavy usage by AP members and customers and on social media for a full week after the flooding hit.