This chapter examines neighbors in emergency situations. Neighbors are always the “first responders” who do what no group of organized volunteers or government provider can. The chapter takes on Hurricane Katrina as a set piece, wherein survivor narratives show that the significance of neighbors emerges in three temporal steps: recognition and witnessing, awakening, and improvised cooperation. In disasters too, rescuers often make explicit reference to being good neighbors and “what anyone would do, here.” The chapter shows how they bring to bear as resources the elements of the democracy of everyday life; and that this ghastly examination of personal and political betrayal and killing reminds one of the comparatively benign parameters of neighbors good and bad in America today.
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