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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.

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.

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.

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.

Houston’s Dams Won’t Fail. But Many Homes Will Have to Be Flooded to Save Them

The water that goes around the spillways is going to have to leave the reservoir somehow — and enter areas surrounding it.

Why Houston Isn’t Ready for Harvey

Houston faces massive flooding from Harvey. Here’s where it’s flooded in the past.

We Found New Details About the New Trump-Branded Hotels. Now We Want Your Help to Find the Rest.

We’re recruiting local reporters and civically engaged citizens. We have a few ideas on how you can find these deals, who to talk to about them, and what documents to look for.

Help Us Identify the Officials Helping Trump Roll Back Regulations

In February, President Trump ordered federal agencies to form task forces charged with finding regulations to weaken or eliminate. While the names of appointees to executive-agency task forces are typically made public, some agencies are refusing to reveal who is on their panels

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