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Al Shaw

News Applications Developer

Photo of Al Shaw

Al Shaw is a news applications developer at ProPublica. Equal parts designer, developer and reporter, he uses data and interactive graphics to cover environmental issues, natural disasters and politics. A year before Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, Shaw was part of a team that produced “Hell and High Water,” which warned of the region's vulnerability to coastal storms. The project won a Peabody Award in 2017. Shaw's project, “Losing Ground,” about the century-long erosion of Louisiana's coast won a Gold Medal from the Society for News Design. His interactive maps surrounding FEMA's response to Hurricane Sandy were honored with the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi award. Before joining ProPublica, Shaw was a designer/developer at the political news website Talking Points Memo.

“A Never-Ending Commitment”: The High Cost of Preserving Vulnerable Beaches

In the wake of hurricanes like Florence, the U.S. government pays to dump truckloads of sand onto eroding beaches, in a cycle that is said to harm ecosystems and disproportionately benefit the rich.

New in Trump Town: Staffer Resumes

After discovering that the resumes of political appointees include information not revealed on their financial disclosure forms, Property of the People used data from Trump Town and Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain as many staff resumes as possible.

Hurricane Florence’s Surge Is Expected to Hit Homes That Already Cost the Government Millions

The storm is pummeling coastal towns that are battling rising sea levels and have been repeatedly bailed out by federal flood insurance.

How the Army Corps’ Hesitation Nearly Destroyed a City

When the worst flood in nearly a century hit Cairo, Illinois, in 2011, the Army Corps waited before following an emergency plan designed to save a city of 2,800 people. See how that week unfolded and the delays and indecision that cost millions in avoidable damage.

To See How Levees Increase Flooding, We Built Our Own

We ran water through a room-sized river model to show how levees can make flooding worse. Try it yourself.

Flood Thy Neighbor: Who Stays Dry and Who Decides?

One Missouri town’s levee saga captures what's wrong with America's approach to controlling rivers.

Here’s How You Can Use Trump Town

We’ve assembled thousands of records of Trump administration appointees. Here’s how you can use them in your stories.

New Model Shows Towns on the Wrong Side of an Illinois Levee District Are Treading Water

By building up their own flood protections, some communities have ensured they would be less affected by future floods, while their neighbors would fare worse.

How Overbuilt Levees Along the Upper Mississippi River Push Floods Onto Others

A new analysis of government data shows how levee districts that have raised their levees without federal permits would be better protected against future flooding, while those that follow the rules would see extra flooding.

How We Compiled Trump Town

We assembled an authoritative database of the people appointed to government positions by the Trump administration. Here’s how we did it.

What We Found in Trump’s Drained Swamp: Hundreds of Ex-Lobbyists and D.C. Insiders

For the first time, political appointee and federal financial disclosure information is publicly searchable.

Trump Town

Tracking White House staffers, Cabinet members and political appointees across the government

One Night on a Private Garbage Truck in New York City

New York’s residential trash is hauled away by the city, but private companies collect trash thrown away by businesses. Every night, an army of private trucks zig-zag across the city, making hundreds of stops each.

How Harvey Hurt Houston, in 10 Maps

The city got two “100-year” storms in the two years before Harvey made landfall. All three storms flooded thousands of houses, many outside of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s flood plains.

Here Are the White House Visitor Records the Trump Administration Didn’t Want You to See

The Trump White House tried to block public access to visitor logs of five federal offices working directly for the president even though they were subject to public disclosure through the Freedom of Information Act. A Washington-based transparency group successfully sued the administration to release the data and provided the documents to ProPublica.

Buyouts Won’t Be the Answer for Many Frequent Flooding Victims

Even after Hurricane Harvey, the best efforts by Harris County officials to purchase the most flood-prone homes won’t make a dent in the larger problem — worsening flooding, and a buyout program that can’t keep up.

Everyone Knew Houston’s Reservoirs Would Flood — Except for the People Who Bought Homes Inside Them

Despite concerns about flooding in and around the Addicks and Barker reservoirs, government officials prioritized development.

Independent Monitors Found Benzene Levels After Harvey Six Times Higher Than Guidelines

After an oil tank in Houston’s Manchester neighborhood caved in, private monitors found levels that far exceeded California’s health guideline

Where the Government Spends to Keep People in Flood-Prone Houston Neighborhoods

The government has shelled out $265 million for flood claims on 1,155 severe repetitive loss properties in the flood insurance program in Harris County.

Update: Trump’s Secret Appointees

Here’s another shadowy batch of officials the Trump administration has quietly deployed across the government.

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