I'll try to rebuild if I can

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click to enlarge John Mason, Vero Beach, Fla. - Jim Stawniak
Jim Stawniak
John Mason, Vero Beach, Fla.

Vero Beach, Fla., like much of the state, took multiple hits from hurricanes. We met retired St. Louis ironworker John Mason at his damaged but still standing mobile home. He was surveying the devastation with two fishing buddies, Richard and Myra Greenfield, transplants from Long Island.

John Mason, pointing with a broom: "It really doesn't look too bad. I love Florida, and I'll try to rebuild if I can. This was a great place to live. But I don't have insurance."

Myra Greenfield: "Our home did OK, but I lost my woods. I had what I called my private hiking woods behind our house."

Mason: "Look at my tree. One side is gone. All the limbs are missing. It won't come back."

Richard Greenfield: "The problem in Florida is building codes. We had our home built to the new code, after Hurricane Andrew. The builder said, 'You don't need shutters.' But we bought shutters.

Myra Greenfield: "Best investment I ever made."

The three walk around the neighborhood, looking at row after row of demolished homes. Mason turns the conversation to politics as he sweeps up debris.

Mason: "I'm all Kerry, all the way. Bush was appointed, not elected. If elected this time, the shame is on America."

Myra Greenfield: "This country can't afford more Bush. Hey, why do you think all of the hurricanes come to Florida. It's Bush country. Someone is trying to tell us something."

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