NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – After superstorm Sandy, most people in New York City knew there was aid out there somewhere. but some didn’t even try to find it.
Sancha Medwinter, a doctoral student from Duke University, has spent the past few months in her hometown trying to figure out why.
Medwinter remembers a woman she met in Canarsie, Brooklyn. She was standing right under a sign – “Hurricane Relief” with an arrow.
“She walked right past it every day and still had no idea where it was,” Medwinter told WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman. “It was clear, just from walking outside your house, where help was.”
In studying what she calls the “information divide,” Medwinter found people relied on certain cues to find help.
“Whether or not a truck was visible. Did they actually see a Red Cross van?” she said.
There were lots in the Rockaways, but in Canarsie where there was what she called “invisible destruction,” the hurricane relief sign wasn’t enough.
Medwinter said some people just couldn’t bear to put in the effort it took to find help.
“And if you’re already stressed and especially if you already know that you’re going to be required to furnish paperwork that probably got lost in the storm to begin with, that can be a deterrent,” she said. “Disaster-related stress plays a big role in whether or not people are going to ask for help.”