Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Man-Made Acts Pose a Threat, Too

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Man-Made Acts Pose a Threat, Too

Article excerpt

Kelvin Bryant doesn't ask for much.

He works as a steakhouse cook. He paid for his sun-washed trailer long ago, and he pays $193 a month for his lot at Sealantic Mobile Home Park in Jacksonville Beach.

But whether Bryant asked for it or not, nature did bestow a huge gift upon him last week. Hurricane Floyd, which buzzed up the coast with 150-mph winds and stinging sheets of rain, only scraped the beach on its way north.

If it hadn't, Bryant might have had no place to come home to. He has no insurance. But for many people who earn moderate to low wages, being able to afford insurance is an afterthought when it comes to simply being able to afford a place to live.

"We don't have any insurance right now, but we're working on getting some,"

said Bryant. "I had some when I lived in Tallahassee. It'll all work out."

Not that people in mobile homes can't get insurance. They can. The amount and expense of the coverage they can get usually depends on how close they live to beaches or low-lying areas, or on the climatological track record of where they live, said Dan McLaughlin, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Insurance.

But still, mobile homes are among the most vulnerable properties when nature goes awry, whether it's a coastal threat like a hurricane or an inland threat like a tornado. And more of the people who are choosing to live in them are among society's most vulnerable as well.

They are people like Bryant. They are the ones who can find an honest, modest-paying job but have a tougher time finding affordable, or adequate, insurance. These are the people who aren't looking to mobile homes as rustic retirement digs or starter homes but simply as decent, inexpensive housing.

Housing that may cost anywhere from $300 to $450 a month to rent -- way below Jacksonville's average rent of $534. …

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