Jan. 01, 2021
Best of the States
AP finds hurricane-battered Louisiana residents struggling, enduring months later
Ever since Hurricane Laura hit southwest Louisiana in August, correspondent Rebecca Santana and photographer Gerald Herbert wanted to follow up with the region’s residents. But in a busy hurricane season, it wasn’t until December that plans finally came together.
Santana researched for weeks, finding subjects and learning about recovery efforts. The pair then spent two days in the Lake Charles area where they saw the devastation firsthand and met storm victims, including a couple whose postponed wedding was finally happening. Herbert, who also shot the video for the stories, went back to Lake Charles eight times, even sleeping in a gutted house on Christmas Eve.
The result was two print stories, three video packages and a photo essay, all of which received prominent play. For uncovering the compelling stories of hurricane victims months after the storms faded from the headlines, Santana and Herbert earn AP’s Best of the States award for the week of Dec. 21.