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Nimble AP journalists deliver unmatched Hurricane Sally coverage

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Gerald Herbert, photographer, New Orleans; Jay Reeves, reporter, Birmingham, Alabama; Stacey Plaisance, video journalist, New Orleans; and Angie Wang, video journalist, Atlanta, scrambled to provide timely coverage of Hurricane Sally. The storm was expected to hit Mississippi as a low-level hurricane, but at the last minute swung sharply to the east, forcing the AP team to regroup. Reeves and Herbert left Gulfport and hopscotched over Alabama to Pensacola, Florida. Wang stayed in Mobile while Plaisance moved from Louisiana to the Mississippi coast.

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A man watches floodwaters in downtown Pensacola, Fla., Sept. 16, 2020, after Hurricane Sally made landfall near Gulf Shores, Ala. – AP Photo / Gerald Herbert

Their flexibility meant unmatched coverage of the surprisingly strong storm. With the idea of getting photos to the wire fast, Herbert shot some pre-dawn pictures before the flooding could be assessed. When the sun rose, he stepped out of his hotel and took a series of photos that ended up defining the storm, the lead images on the apps for both the The New York Times and The Washington Post. Reeves gathered color to tell the stories of those impacted. Wang and Plaisance sent video that accounted for seven of the top 20 most used pieces of the week.

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