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AP teams respond with standout coverage of European floods

A woman tosses debris in the center of Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, Germany, July 19, 2021. More than 180 people died when heavy rainfall sent raging floodwaters across parts of western Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. and officials put the death toll in Ahrweiler county alone at 110. (AP Photo / Bram Janssen)

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AP’s Europe teams were quick to deliver exceptional, wide-ranging coverage in all formats as devastating floods left some 200 dead across Northern Europe. Sweeping stories and arresting visuals showed the scale and severity of the flooding while also capturing the human suffering and loss.

Berlin-based correspondent Frank Jordans recognized the scope of the unfolding tragedy, sending multiple alerts and urgent updates as the death toll began to rise. His stories reported on not only the developing story in Western Germany but also in Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Austria and Switzerland.

Jordans and fellow Berlin writer Geir Moulson continued to track the story over the coming days as the toll grew,while Brussels-based Raf Casert contributed a powerful piece examining the links to climate change. Highlighting the multinational impact of the disaster,Austrian freelance reporter Emily Schultheis crafted a dramatic story of close escapes,elegantly drawing on interviews collected by video crews in all the affected countries.

Live video was quickly established through a combination of partner feeds and our own video complement of Berlin’s Christoph Noelting,field producer Pietro di Cristofaro and senior field producer Dorothee Thiesing,Frankfurt producer Daniel Niemann,video journalist David Keyton in Paris,freelancer Eric Fux in Belgium and Aleks Furtula in the Netherlands. The Belgian and Dutch teams,headed by Western Europe News Director Angela Charlton,navigated closed roads and muddy terrain to reach the hardest-hit areas,reporting compelling personal stories amid the destruction. Fux found a family that spent a terrifying night on the roof of their destroyed home,waiting for rescue; Bram Janssen found a man in the southern Netherlands who lost decades of photo albums, magazines and valuable documents.

Meanwhile,London producer Nadia Ahmed delivered a key user-generated video — among the many clips that saw heavy client usage — showing the moment a whole house was swept away by the torrents,snapping off a tree and smashing into a bridge.

Photos,both from the ground and from the air,revealed the extent of the damage. Spot coverage included work from Michael Probst and Janssen in Germany,and from Virginia Mayo,Francisco Seco and Valentin Bianchi in Belgium,with Mayo landing photos of a surprise visit by the president of the European Commission to one Belgian town. A striking photo gallery showed the devastation across Europe; AP’s photos were used by hundreds of customers, from The New York Times to Sky News.

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