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Russell Lewis

As NPR's Southern Bureau chief, Russell Lewis covers issues and people of the Southeast for NPR — from Florida to Virginia to Texas, including West Virginia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma. His work brings context and dimension to issues ranging from immigration, transportation, and oil and gas drilling for NPR listeners across the nation and around the world.

In addition to developing and expanding NPR's coverage of the region, Lewis assigns and edits stories from station-based reporters and freelancers that air on NPR's news programs, working closely with local correspondents and public radio stations. He spent a year in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, coordinating NPR's coverage of the massive rebuilding effort and the reverberations of the storm in local communities. He joined NPR in 2006 and is based in Birmingham, Alabama.

Lewis is also a key member of NPR's 'Go Team' — a small group of experienced NPR producers and reporters who respond to major disasters worldwide. He is often among the first on the scene for NPR — both reporting from these sites as well as managing the logistics of bringing additional NPR reporters into disaster areas that lack functioning transportation systems, basic utilities, food, water, and security.

He was dispatched to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, where he helped manage a group of NPR journalists. He created an overland supply line for the NPR team between the Dominican Republic and Haiti and brought listeners stories about the slow pace of supply distribution because of border bottlenecks. In Japan in 2011, he was quickly on the scene after the earthquake and tsunami to help coordinate NPR's intensive coverage. In 2013, he was on the ground overseeing NPR's reporting in the Philippines in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan. Covering the impact of the massive earthquake in Nepal in 2015, he field-produced NPR's coverage and also reported how a lack of coordination by the government and aid workers slowed response. Lewis managed NPR's on-the-ground coverage in 2015 of the terrorist attacks in Paris, France, and reported from Brussels, Belgium. He returned to Brussels in 2016 after the terrorist bombings at the airport and metro station. He helped field-produce NPR's coverage and also reported several stories about the response and recovery. In 2018, he went to Indonesia to field-produce and edit coverage following the earthquake and tsunami in Palu.

Lewis also oversees NPR's sports coverage. He spent six weeks in Brazil in 2014 handling logistics and reporting on the World Cup. In 2015, he did the same in Canada for the Women's World Cup. In 2016, Lewis reported and oversaw NPR's team of journalists at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. He also led NPR's coverage from Pyeongchang, South Korea, at the 2018 Winter Olympics and from Tokyo at the delayed Summer Olympics in 2021.

In 2010, the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at Columbia University awarded him a prestigious Ochberg Fellowship. The Fellowship is designed to improve reporting on violence, conflict, and tragedy. Lewis has continued his work with the Dart Center and has trained reporters on behalf of the organization in Trinidad and Tobago, the Cayman Islands, and Puerto Rico.

A graduate of the University of Florida, Lewis began his public radio career in 1992 as reporter and executive producer at NPR member station WUFT in Gainesville, Florida. He also spent time at WSVH in Savannah, Georgia, and was Statehouse Bureau Chief at Kansas Public Radio. For six years he worked at KPBS in San Diego as a senior editor and reporter. He also was a talk show host and assistant news director at WGCU in Fort Myers, Florida.

When he's not busy at work, Lewis can be found being creative in the kitchen or outside refereeing soccer games.

Updated August 27, 2021 at 2:55 PM ET

A Florida judge has ruled that school districts in the state can require students to wear masks. At least 10 school districts — including some in many of the largest cities — had been defying state rules set by Gov. Ron DeSantis banning mask mandates.

TOKYO — They were called the "COVID Olympics." The "pandemic Olympics." The "anger Olympics." Many Japanese people were upset to host such a huge and risky event in the middle of the pandemic, and many outside observers were surprised it happened at all.

TOKYO — On the final day of the Tokyo Summer Olympics, the U.S. women's volleyball team did something it had never done before: win a gold medal. The squad defeated Brazil 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-14) at Ariake Arena.

It was the sixth volleyball medal for the United States. It had previously won three silver and two bronze and it was the fourth Olympics in a row that the U.S. had medaled. But this was the most complete effort of any previous team. The U.S. lost just one of its eight matches in Tokyo.

TOKYO — American Nelly Korda finished with a one-shot victory in the Olympic women's golf competition battling both the rain and her opponents in the final round. With the win, the United States swept the gold medals in golf.

Korda, 23, continued her sparkling season after winning her first major, the Women's PGA Championship in June, as well as two other tournaments, and then snagging the world number one ranking. Now she can add an Olympic gold medal to her collection of firsts this year.

TOKYO — It was not the color medal the U.S. Women's National Soccer team had hoped to win at the Olympics. But the dominant 4-3 victory over Australia gave the top-ranked U.S. the bronze medal. In the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, the U.S. was bounced out of the Olympics in the quarterfinals.

TOKYO — U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher will not play in Thursday's Olympic bronze medal women's soccer match. Naeher exited Monday's semifinal game against Canada with an injury.

In the 22nd minute, Naeher leaped for a ball, bumped into U.S. defender Julie Ertz and landed awkwardly. U.S. Soccer says Naeher "suffered a hyperextension of her right knee and a bone contusion."

TOKYO — We're in the home stretch of the most dramatic Olympics in recent memory, held against great odds amid a global pandemic in a country where many Japanese residents didn't want it to happen at all.

TOKYO — American swimmer Katie Ledecky is once again the Olympic champion at the 800-meter freestyle.

She touched the wall first at 8:12.57, besting her Australian rival Ariarne Titmus who cruised to silver at 8:13.83. Italy's Simona Quadarella took the bronze. American Katie Grimes was fourth.

It was Ledecky's second individual gold at the Tokyo Olympics, after her win in the 1,500-meter freestyle.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Updated July 27, 2021 at 11:09 AM ET

TOKYO — The U.S. women's gymnastics team has taken silver in the women's team final, behind the team from Russia, after U.S. star Simone Biles suddenly pulled out of competition after the first rotation to focus on her mental health.

This marks the first time in a decade that the U.S. women's team has not come out on top in major international competition. The U.S. has won every Olympics and World Championships event since 2011.

Updated July 21, 2021 at 8:21 AM ET

TOKYO — It was a devastating start to the Tokyo Olympics for the U.S. women's soccer team. The U.S., ranked No. 1 and the reigning World Cup champions, played a familiar foe: Sweden. And unfortunately for the U.S., it was a familiar result. Sweden beat them 3-0.

Seven months before the collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Fla., the condominium association board and residents were still sparring over expensive repairs needed in their building.

A 2018 engineering report warned of "major structural damage" and a construction error in the building. The structural slab was deteriorating; it was flat instead of sloped. Water couldn't drain properly and pooled on the surface. The concrete began to crumble, and support columns rusted.

The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season officially begins Tuesday, June 1, and the National Hurricane Center has designated 21 storm names for the six-month period ending Nov. 30.

An astronaut who flew on one of the most famous space missions of all time has died. Michael Collins, 90, was part of the three-member crew on Apollo 11, the first lunar landing mission in 1969. Unlike Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, he never walked on the moon. Collins stayed behind and piloted the command module as it circled above. Because of that, Collins is often called the "forgotten astronaut."

Updated March 26, 2021 at 4:07 AM ET

Deadly tornadoes that ripped through Alabama throughout Thursday remain a significant threat to other Southern states as the sun rises on Friday.

At least five deaths and multiple injuries have been reported in Calhoun County, Ala., after a tornado hit the region, county coroner Pat Brown told NPR Thursday.

Alabama Emergency Management Agency Director Brian Hastings estimated Thursday night that hundreds of homes were destroyed or damaged in his state.

The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered emergency inspections of Boeing 777 aircraft with engines like the one that exploded on a United Airlines jet last weekend.

Tom Brady has done it yet again. The quarterback won his record seventh Super Bowl and the first with his new team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Brady and the Bucs beat the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 in what was a home game for the Bucs, played in Tampa, Fla.

Super Bowl 55 capped a difficult and challenging year for the NFL. The coronavirus led to postponements, teams sometimes playing with depleted rosters and many games hosted in mostly empty stadiums.

One of the world's most famous aviators has died: Chuck Yeager — best known as the first to break the sound barrier — died at the age of 97.

A message posted to his Twitter account says, "Fr @VictoriaYeage11 It is w/ profound sorrow, I must tell you that my life love General Chuck Yeager passed just before 9pm ET. An incredible life well lived, America's greatest Pilot, & a legacy of strength, adventure, & patriotism will be remembered forever."

The Los Angeles Dodgers won the 2020 World Series in Game 6 Tuesday night, defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1.

Updated at 6:05 p.m. ET

Hurricane season, like many other aspects of life, has reached peak 2020.

When Tropical Storm Wilfred and Subtropical Storm Alpha formed on Friday, they became the 21st and 22nd named storms of the season. Not long after them, weather forecasters spotted Tropical Storm Beta.

Put another way, this marks just the second time in history that forecasters have had to resort to the Greek alphabet because available storm names have been exhausted.

In a video statement released on Twitter, NCAA president Mark Emmert says, "We cannot, at this point, have fall NCAA championships." He says there are not enough schools participating because of coronavirus cancellations and season postponements.

This means there will no championships in any Division 1 collegiate sports with the possible exception of football. "If you don't have half the schools participating, you can't have a legitimate championship," he says.

The tropics have had their busiest start ever and, for now, show no signs of slowing down. On Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center said Tropical Storm Gonzalo had formed far out in the central Atlantic Ocean.

The system has sustained winds of 50 mph as it moves toward the Southern Windward Islands. Forecasters expect it to reach hurricane strength on Thursday.

Major League Baseball and its Players Association have reached an agreement to play a shortened season this year. The MLB Players Association made the announcement first via tweet.

In a subsequent news release, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said players will report to spring training on July 1 and the regular season is to begin either on July 23 or 24. Instead of the typical 162-game regular season, teams will play just 60 games.

Updated 8:36 p.m. ET

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee has endorsed a delay in the start of the 2020 games in Tokyo because of the spread of deadly coronavirus.

The U.S. committee released a statement saying it had polled athletes and concluded that "the enormous disruptions to the training environment, doping controls and qualification process can't be overcome in a satisfactory manner."

One of the astronauts who flew during the lunar program has died. Al Worden, 88, was a command module pilot who circled the moon during Apollo 15.

Updated at 11:21 p.m. ET

March Madness is going to be very different this year. The NCAA has decided both the men's and women's Division I basketball tournaments won't be played in front of fans. The energy. The excitement. The yelling. All gone. Thanks, coronavirus.

Updated at 1:10 p.m. ET Thursday

The NBA suspended its season Wednesday after a player on the Utah Jazz preliminarily tested positive for the coronavirus. The team announced Thursday that after testing the entire traveling team in follow-up, a second player has tested positive.

Katherine Johnson, a mathematician who was one of NASA's human "computers" and an unsung hero of the space agency's early days, died Monday. She calculated the flight path for America's first crewed space mission and moon landing, and she was among the women profiled in the book and movie Hidden Figures. She was 101.

Her death was announced by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

Federal investigators say the helicopter that crashed in Southern California last month killing NBA basketball star Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven other people did not have an engine failure. The investigative update from the National Transportation Safety Board has not determined the cause of the crash. But it did give several new details.

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