Monday, September 01, 2008

Living in a Trailer Home

The Eastpointer

Living in a Trailer Home

By Richard E. Noble

"I don't think that they should allow people to live in those trailer homes."

My sister, calling me from San Diego, California, said that to me the other night on the phone. And she knows all too well that I have lived in my trailer home for over 30 years now. Sometimes it is hard to believe what a family member will say.

I didn't get angry or even annoyed; I decided to practice my Socratic Dialogue techniques.

"And why do you say that, my dear sister?" I enquired Plato-like.

"Well, you know why! Every time there is a storm somewhere they show some trailer park in a shambles. It's ridiculous! Those trailer homes aren't safe to live in."

"Well, I've been living in a trailer home for thirty years now and I'm still here."

"You've been lucky."

"I've been lucky? And this is coming from a person who lives in California, the land of mud slides, earthquakes, forest fires and collapsing bridges? As I remember last year, you had a fire that surrounded your entire area. You told me that you had to evacuate your condo. I couldn't contact you for three days."

"Well ..."

"Well what? Because you were living in a condo you were safer from the surrounding flames than you would have been if you were living in a trailer home?"

"No, I guess not"

"And if it had been an earthquake you would have been safer in your fancy condo than in a trailer home?"


"And it is safer to be in a condo during a mud slide?"

"No, but what about a hurricane?"

"Well, there is plenty of warning that is given when a hurricane comes. We've always had plenty of time to leave the area if we felt endangered. We've had several hurricanes come through here and we're still here and so is our trailer home."

"But what about a tornado?"

"Do you think that a person is safer in a conventional home than he is in a trailer home in the event of a tornado? A tornado doesn't care if something is made of cement, brick, plastic or steel - a tornado will rip anything apart and it doesn't come with a week or two of warning advisories."

"I know. But when all those trailer houses get destroyed, it cost those insurance companies millions of dollars. They don't even want to insure trailer homes anymore."

"You're right. But I don't think it is because the insurance companies are worried about saving lives. I think that it is because they would like nothing better than to see all the trailer homes disappear so they could be replaced by million dollar apartment structures like yours, or a pile of fancy homes paying them big premiums like out on St. George Island. You know the last close call we had here in Franklin County, our trailer home was still in tact. Our only damage was to the screens on our porch. The Island was a wreck. My wife and I went out there with our boat trailer and gathered up enough building supplies laying out on the roads to build two out-building here on our property. We paid trailer insurance for over 20 and never made a single claim.

"When there is a storm and the insurance companies pay out millions - most of that money goes to home owners not trailer parks. To replace the cost of one 3 million dollar home out on the Island every trailer in Eastpoint would have to get blown away. The reason insurance companies don't want to insure trailers is the same reason they don't want to insure sick people - they can't make any money off the poor and the sick. They're a busiiness! Businesses want to make money - they aren't the United Fund, Red Cross or the Salvation Army you know."

"I know. But that is the way it is."

"Well, let me tell you something else. If it were just safety and cost, they wouldn't allow anybody to live in anything but a trailer or some other cheap expendable type living structure around here and the water's edge. If it was just a matter of safety and cost, they wouldn't let anybody build an expensive home on a barrier island or along a coastal area. It wouldn't matter if it was elevated up on stilts or not. It is all a matter of premiums and profits - not people, safety, and costs. Sure a trailer home can blow away but if they kept them cheap and affordable they could be insured for a small cost and replaced when and if a few of them get blown away every twenty or thirty years."

"Well, how come they kept telling us on the news about the danger of these cheap trailers?"

"Who do you think owns the TV stations - trailer park operators or insurance companies and big investors? My dear sister, if it weren't for this trailer home Carol and I would never have had any home. It isn't the most beautiful home on the block even in Eastpoint, but we have had a good life here and a lot of fun playing house in this cheap little pile of tin. Now the insurance companies want to charge us $3,000 a year to insure a $10,000 trailer. They don't want to help us; they want to get rid of us!"