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ProPublica and Texas Tribune Project on Dangers of Hurricanes to Houston a Finalist for North American Digital Media Award

The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers announced today that “Boomtown, Flood Town,” a collaboration between ProPublica and the Texas Tribune, is a finalist for the North American Digital Media Award in the Best Data Visualization category.

The multimedia project — by a team of local reporters and data journalists including ProPublica’s Al Shaw, along with The Texas Tribune’s Kiah Collier, and Neena Satija of the Texas Tribune and Reveal — was part of a series that presciently showed the risk to Houston of hurricanes and floods with the potential to devastate the region.

Published last year, the project served as an interactive, immersive call to action before such a storm hit, using excellent science journalism and cutting-edge technology to tell the story in a new way. It took a closer look at how the loss of undeveloped prairie and wetlands was making areas that had not flooded in decades more prone to inundation. The story also exposed the dangers of a bureaucratic nightmare in Houston: a process plagued by politicians passing the buck, and by the strange psychology of large disasters, which are often considered academic problems until it’s far too late.

With the recent catastrophic flooding in Houston from Hurricane Harvey, the reporting of “Boomtown, Flood Town” is increasingly urgent. This week, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner gave his strongest endorsement to date for constructing a physical barrier to protect the region from deadly storm surges during hurricanes.

Winners for the North American Digital Media Awards will be announced in October. Read more about the award here.

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