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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET During the aftermath of Sandy, the result was a palpable tension and mis- trust pointing to unspoken divisions. According to a story by Sarah Maslin Nir (New York Times, November 16, 2012), right after the storm, tensions became apparent and slowly began to simmer. For the storm not only uprooted lives, but it also exposed undercurrents of the divide between the “haves” and “have not’s”: those with electrical power and those without, those with working cell phones and those without, those with hot meals and those without, those with safe drinking water and those without. The divide not only accentuated economic disparities, but it also centered on racial, ethnic, and cultural life and even on geographic location—an example of how the chaos of a disaster unmasks the reality of divergent realities, of lives barely connected. As in the aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans, the resulting devastation of Sandy left many without the basics of life: shelter, food, water, warmth. Thousands of volunteers, mostly white and upper income, poured into the areas most affected, all having the best intention to help. In Brooklyn the volunteers encountered people who were stranded in pockets of poverty liv- ing completely different lives: a foreign experience compared to their well- to-do neighborhoods of Manhattan. A cultural clash of mostly privileged people meeting face-to-face with mostly poor brown and black people was the result. The tensions centered on perceived assumptions and stereotypes; well-meaning help turned into words and actions perceived as condescend- ing, arrogant, and plainly ignorant. The mistrust also came from the local residents in the form of resentments and old biases of those who could assist during this time of need. Local residents, who managed the worst of the storm during the first few days, relied on their own resources, friendships, and community networks. All of a sudden these local “strangers” descended on the neighborhood like they were visiting a zoo. It did not help that strangers came to these neighborhoods and snapped photos, a deplorable version of disaster tourism. Some locals were outraged and humiliated when the volunteers assumed that the locals had not eaten or bathed or been in contact with the rest of the world in days. The perceived attitudes (“You must be ready for a hot shower”) were insulting to people who had a sense of pride and dignity in keeping themselves and their families relatively safe and intact. A disaster is not defined as people being completely helpless, incapable, ignorant, or in desperation. As for the volunteers, it was a reality check for their own purposes in helping without the mantel of saving or preaching or satisfy- ing residual guilt about being better off. For at the end of the day and at the end of the devastation, volunteers returned to their privileged sectors and the locals returned to neighborhoods forever changed. Although much of the help was genuinely appreciated, and volunteers could feel satisfaction in 14 C H A P T E R 1 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL