It's All Gone:' Florida Residents Regroup After Irma Passes

Florida residents got a first look of the destruction Irma caused as it swept over the state, leaving virtually no area of the peninsula untouched. Some donned waders to slog through thigh-high water and stuffed bags with all of the belongings they could carry after being forced to leave apartment buildings and mobile homes. Many were shaken by a storm they said was more powerful than they had ever seen.

Their stories provide a glimpse into the extensive reach of Irma's wrath:

Aide Valadares packed up her belongings Monday after Hurricane Irma ripped the roof off of her apartment complex in Miami.

She said water leaked into the top-floor apartments and the ceiling sagged in her one-bedroom unit below.

The walls bowed and cracked in the living room, where she had hung prints of her favorite paintings from Colombian painter Fernando Botero, and Spanish artist Diego de Velazquez.

"You come home. You see this. It's devastating," she said. "The fire department came and said that structurally this is not safe," she said. "It will collapse."

Gwen Bush watched from her window early Monday morning as the water rose around her central Florida home. She had been sitting in darkness for hours as she listened to trees snap and water bubble. When it began to seep under her front door, she thought of the scenes of Hurricane Harvey in Texas that she had seen on TV.

"I was scared to death, I thought I was gonna die," she said. "I can't swim and the water kept rising; it was all the way up to my windows. I actually thought I was not going to live through this. I started praying."

Bush saw the National Guard and firefighters outside with boats and big trucks. She grabbed a hurricane kit she'd packed the day before, pushed open the door, and waded through thigh-deep water to reach the rescuers, who took her to a shelter a few miles (kilometers) away.

As day broke, she was grateful to be alive - but worried about the future. She had frantically tried to stack her belongings on top of beds and cabinets as the water rushed in, but she assumes she probably lost almost everything in her rented home.

Bush, 50, works as a security guard at a sports and music venue in Orlando, and only gets paid when she works. Concerts and shows were canceled in the days leading up to the storm, and she's not sure when she'll be able to get back to work.

As the storm closed in, she spent the last $10 she had on food and water. Now she has nothing left but the red sweatsuit she escaped in. Even her shoes were ruined by the water and muck.

"How are we gonna survive from here?" she said. "What's going to happen now? I just don't know."

Robert Hickok, a 51-year-old commercial fisherman, spent hours stranded in his truck on a bridge amid fast-rising waters as he tried to leave Plantation Island.

He decided to ride out the storm on the island, where he's lived for about four years, and sat tight through hours of rain and wind and flying debris. He was relieved when things became calm in the wee hours of Monday morning.

"It got real calm, you know," he said in a phone interview. "The rain let up and it quit blowing and I was still on the island and I thought it was all over."

But when he looked out the window 30 or 45 minutes later, the road was covered with water. As he watched, it began rising fast. He immediately got in his truck, but by the time he'd driven roughly a mile to the bridge, it was too late. Everglades City, on the other side of the bridge, was flooded and there was nowhere to go.

"Thank God the bridge was there," he said. "If the bridge wasn't there, it'd have been bad."

He hunkered down in his truck and hoped the water wouldn't rise any higher. At daybreak, the water began to recede and he was able to drive off the island.

He returned to his home around midday Monday to find it destroyed.

"It's all gone. It's a total loss," he said. "The trailer, boat, car, everything."

Ken Christian woke up at 5 a.m. Monday and saw water an inch below his door in the San Marco district near the St. Johns River in Jacksonville.

"I laid back down, and 30 minutes later, there was 3 inches in the apartment. At one point it got up to 3 feet. We got all the canned good we could and got out," he said.

The National Weather Service said the storm surge from Irma broke the flooding record in Jacksonville previously set by Hurricane Dora in 1964. It hit particularly hard along both shores of the St. Johns River that cuts through downtown.

Water was 4 feet deep in the three blocks of houses and apartments leading to the river. One man used his daughter's surfboard to paddle along streets to check out the damage.

Another man, Darin Van Gundy, waded through the streets to check on friends. He woke up at 6:30 a.m. to find water creeping up to his door. Within a few hours, the bottom floor of his two-story apartment had 4 feet of water.

"We lost some art we never imagined we could lose because we brought it up 4 feet, and it crested at 5 feet in spots," he said.

Laura Keeney, of Key West, had her pet bird with her in a hotel lobby in Miami.

"He has been making so much noise in the room," said Keeney, who works as a concierge at the Hyatt in Key West.

She said that her apartment manager told her that her unit had flooded, but she didn't know the extent of the damage.

"They told me 'there is definitely water in the downstairs apartment,' which is me," she said.

Her pet bird, a blue macaw named Odie, chuckled.

"He is laughing at the most inopportune moments," she said.



West of Miami, in Sweetwater, the din of chainsaws and generators filled the Monday morning air. Irma's floodwaters had inundated streets and lapped at people's doors as the storm stomped through, but mostly receded a day later.

Fallen trees lined streets along with cars that got stuck in floodwaters. On the town's main drag, weary-eyed residents cleared branches, while city trucks with giant metal claws plucked away bigger debris.

Jesus Castillo, 50, said at least a foot (0.30 meters) of water pooled outside his home. "My entire patio was underwater," he said.

Around the corner, a group of friends helped a woman clear a large tree that had splintered like a toothpick. Over the backyard fence, 62-year-old Bayardo Perez wrestled with a mangled tin shed roof. He has lived in the house for decades and carries memories of previous storms.

"This one was worse than Andrew for me," he said, finally getting the crumpled roof free and walking off to throw it on a pile of debris.



In Bonita Springs, on the Gulf Coast south of Fort Myers, Kelly McClenthen and her boyfriend, Daniel Harrison, put on waders to enter her neighborhood Monday and they needed them: About 5 feet (1.5 meters) of river water stood under her home, which is on stilts.

The main living area was fine, she said, but everything on the ground level was destroyed.

"My washer and dryer are floating around in my utility room," she said.

The same area flooded during a storm about two weeks ago, Harrison said, and that cleanup was still a work in progress.

Now they'll start over.

"We weathered it out. We've got a lot of damage, a lot of cleanup. But we'll get through it. No doubt," said Harrison.



At Germain Arena in Estero, south of Fort Myers, where thousands sought shelter from the storm, people sat amid puddles on the concrete floor Monday morning. Rainwater leaked at the height of the storm.

"Irma went over and we were all like, 'Oh good, we survived.' And then all of a sudden, some of the panels came off the roof, I guess, and we started getting water pouring down in different places," said evacuee Mary Fitzgerald, 61. "It was like, 'Oh my God, what is going to happen?'"

The water stopped coming in after the eyewall passed, and people were streaming out to go check on their homes as the sun came up.



Larry Dimas and his wife, Elida Dimas, live in Immokalee, in inland Florida town about 40 miles (65 kilometers) northeast of Naples where entire areas were flooded.

The Dimases lost part of the roof of their mobile home to Irma, and one wall wobbled to the touch.

Cars and trucks drove slowly through a main intersection Monday to avoid causing wakes next to homes and businesses. Kids rode bikes on streets covered in water.

Larry Dimas said damage from Irma won't be easy to overcome in a town whose population is composed mainly of migrants and blue-collar workers.

"They just go to work and come home. Something like this happens and it's just ...," Dimas said, pausing and turning around to keep his emotions in check.

Dimas said it's still OK to live in his mobile home, but his wife disagrees.

"He wants to, but I'm not living here," she said.



Joseph McCord in Jacksonville would have probably not taken the hurricane barreling toward Florida too seriously.

But he grew up in Beaumont, Texas, and lived there most of his life, and a few weeks ago his parents' home was ruined by Hurricane Harvey. They lost everything.

"So I thought, I'm not taking any chances with this one," said McCord, who moved to Jacksonville two years ago.

He piled everything in his car and drove it to his work on high ground, where he had to stay all night to wait out the storm.

It was good that he did: he came back home to find his whole neighborhood of San Marco under water - the worst flood in Jacksonville in a century. It was one of several Jacksonville neighborhoods overtaken by rushing water from the St. Johns River and its tributaries as Hurricane Irma took its final lick at Florida.

Search and rescue teams pulled people from their homes. Residents circled the streets in kayaks and canoes, as trash, shoes, furniture, lamp shades bobbed by.

The water receded from McCord's house, though the surrounding streets remain under the flood. He tried to get home, but a police officer told him not to even try, that he'd get stuck there and they'll have to rescue him.

"I'm going to get there," he declared and marched on.



Felicia Clark and Johnny Thompson spent Saturday moving into their new house in St. Petersburg, on Florida's Gulf Coast. After a long day, with forecasts showing that Irma was headed their way, they decided to leave it behind.

They packed some clothes and toiletries and hopped in the car around 1 a.m. Sunday with their two dogs, Gracie and Roscoe. They headed north, making it all the way to downtown Atlanta before they found a hotel with rooms available.

Caught in traffic with others who'd decided to flee the storm, the drive that should have taken about seven hours took more than 14.

They've spent much of their time in Atlanta watching storm coverage on television. When Thompson took the dogs out for a walk in nearby Centennial Olympic Park on Sunday night, he met numerous other evacuated Florida residents.

Clark and Thompson were worried about their new home, but word finally arrived from family members who stayed behind.

Some tree limbs fell in their yard, but the house wasn't damaged.


Associated Press writers Jay Reeves in Bonita Springs and Estero, Florida; Claire Galofaro in Windermere, Florida; Jason Dearen in Sweetwater, Florida; Adriana Gomez Licon in Miami; Doug Ferguson in Jacksonville, Florida; and Kate Brumback in Atlanta contributed to this report.


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Special Report: How Fed Policy Enriches Private Equity, If ...
By Carrick MollenkampMACON, Georgia (Reuters) - Sanders Walker had been working for 13 years at a BWAY Corp factory in Macon, Georgia, when the word came down one September 2011 morning: The company, a maker of plastic and metal containers, was closing the plant. Walker, a quality manager, and about 70 other employees were out of work.After an eight-month search, Walker got a job at another area factory, at sharply reduced pay. "Nobody wants to hire somebody that is 62 years old," he says. Walker and his wife, Shari, struggled financially. Facing foreclosure, they walked away from their home in July 2012. They now live in a mobile home at the KOA Campground in Forsyth, Georgia. Tending to the potted chrysanthemums and other plants around the place gives Shari something to do "besides worry," she says.The private-equity firm that owned BWAY when Walker lost his job enjoyed a more satisfying relationship with the company.High-risk debt issued by BWAY helped Chicago-based Madison Dearborn Partners LLC acquire the manufacturer in June 2010 for $915 million. In that partially debt-financed buyout, Madison Dearborn put up just $294 million of its own cash. A few months later, it paid itself a $138.4 million dividend from the proceeds of a BWAY junk-bond sale it helped arrange. Then, late last year, it sold BWAY to another private-equity firm in a leveraged buyout for $1.24 billion. BWAY then sold more junk bonds to generate a dividend payout for its new owner, Platinum Equity LLC.All of these transactions were underpinned by unflagging demand for high-risk, high-yield investments like the junk bonds BWAY issued - demand fueled by "quantitative easing," the U.S. Federal Reserve's multitrillion-dollar bond-buying program to shore up the economy and create jobs after the 2008 financial crisis. Easy access to such credit, thanks largely to the Fed, has allowed private-equity firms like BWAY's owners to move aggressively to pay themselves dividends, reducing their own downside risk, while increasing the debt burdens of the companies they buy and sell.RISING DEBTAt BWAY, debt has climbed as the Atlanta, Georgia, manufacturer has been flipped profitably from one private-equity owner to another in recent years. In autumn 2009, the year before Madison Dearborn bought BWAY, the company and its affiliates had total debt of $402.3 million, according to securities filings; now, that figure stands at $1.5 billion.As its debt has grown, BWAY has cut costs while trying to bolster market share through acquisitions. Closing the Macon factory where Walker worked and another in Phoenix, Arizona, for example, was an attempt to realize "future cost savings," BWAY said in a regulatory filing at the time.Madison Dearborn declined to comment. A spokesman for Platinum Equity said that in the past year, the firm has helped BWAY generate $51.5 million in additional earnings. "Not only have the improvements allowed us to recoup capital for our investors," he said. "But BWAY has re-invested substantially in the business and maintained a healthy balance sheet with ample liquidity."Quantitative easing has had the intended effect of holding down interest rates, which has in turn encouraged borrowing by businesses and individuals with good credit and stabilized the housing market. But persistent economic uncertainty has dulled the positive impact of the Fed's program. U.S. gross domestic product has broken above a 3 percent annual rate of growth in only six quarters since 2009. Some of the money has instead inflated asset bubbles, to the benefit of mostly wealthy investors seeking high yields.The Fed's "real intention was capital investment would be stimulated, jobs would be created, incomes of the 99 percent would rise," says Martin Fridson, a high-yield expert and chief executive of FridsonVision LLC, a financial research firm in New York. But, he adds, it's "not clear how effective that has really been. It's certainly clear that those who are wealthy enough to own a substantial amount of assets have been made even wealthier by the Fed policy."A Fed spokesman declined to comment. Federal Reserve Vice Chair Janet Yellen, the nominee to lead the central bank, said at a Senate confirmation hearing last month that the Fed is monitoring the costs and risks associated with the stimulus program.In its Uneasy Money series, Reuters has in recent months examined the effect of all this money sloshing around, showing, for example, how the yield chase has underpinned surging markets for bonds issued on pools of subprime auto and mortgage loans.HEAPS OF JUNKAmong the biggest of the Fed-inflated asset bubbles is in the market for junk bonds. Last year, junk-bond issuance hit a decade high of $326.72 billion, rising from a trough of $62.9 billion in 2008, according to Thomson Reuters data.Investor demand was so strong that, despite the flood of junk onto the market, yields fell below 5 percent for the first time ever in May this year, according to Barclays Plc. That compares with the historical norm of between 8 and 10 percent and the 20.5 percent yield touched in March 2009, in the depths of the financial crisis. Demand has slackened in recent months.The plunge in junk yields has pushed investors into a particularly risky subset used several times by BWAY: payment-in-kind, or PIK, toggle bonds. These securities enable a corporate borrower to make repayments with cash or more bonds with even higher interest rates. PIK toggle sales so far this year, at $10.7 billion, compares with just $875 million in 2009, according to Standard & Poor's Capital IQ."PIK is back because PIK bonds give extra yield," says Adam Cohen, founder of Covenant Review LLC, a New York credit research firm. As an example, he cites PIK toggle bonds BWAY sold in October 2012 with a 9.5 percent coupon, rising to 10.25 percent if BWAY opts to repay with more debt. "That is some real money in a market where high yield can mean 5 percent," Cohen says.This chain of effects originating from the Fed's bond-buying has not altered the private-equity formula: The firms buy companies using debt issued by the target, pay themselves dividends from more debt issued by the acquired company, and then take the company public or sell it to another buyer. To increase the value of their investment before they sell it, they typically try to improve operational results, through expansion, cost-cutting, consolidation and other means.What has changed is that private-equity firms can now use more debt and less of their own money, reducing their risk and speeding up turnover times. Unrelenting investor demand for junk has meant that companies backed by firms like Madison Dearborn and Platinum can issue more of the bonds, more often, generating for the firms and their affiliates dividends to recoup big chunks of their investments quickly. So-called dividend recapitalizations by private-equity-controlled companies and funded by PIK notes total $8.23 billion so far this year, compared with zero in 2009, according to S&P Capital IQ.Dividends "put more money into the sponsor pockets faster, which makes the sponsor, logically, more willing to take risks going forward," says Cohen of Covenant Review. "It puts more financial pressure on the whole firm to make interest payments, and that increased pressure can reduce the amount of cash left over to reinvest in the company."HEAVIER BURDENThe debt is leaving some companies in private-equity portfolios weaker. Their ratio of debt to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization for companies issuing junk debt hit a low of 4.23 in the fourth quarter of 2011 and hovered below 5 before peaking at 5.08 in the second quarter this year, according to S&P Capital IQ. It has since fallen to 4.67.At BWAY, the ratio hit a much higher 7 earlier this year, according to Moody's Investors Service. BWAY acknowledged the situation in its annual report for 2012, saying: "Our substantial level of indebtedness could adversely affect our financial condition and prevent us from making payments on our debt obligations."BWAY's current owner, an affiliate of Platinum Equity, said through a spokesman that the private-equity firm's expertise at "early value creation" made the dividend possible, that increasing the manufacturer's profits is a top priority, that BWAY's leverage ratio is declining, and that BWAY has "consistently proven its ability to generate cash and pay down debt."Mark Barnhill, a partner at Platinum Equity, added: "We're not financial engineers. We're operators who are hip deep in restructuring. We're rolling up our sleeves to generate change at the operational level that improves performance."Founded in 1875 as a maker of pie tins, BWAY today is one of the largest U.S. manufacturers of paint cans, plastic pails and ammunition boxes, according to Moody's. The company's history as a darling of private-equity firms began in 2003, when New York-based Kelso & Co acquired it for $330 million, including the assumption of debt.In what became the private-equity template for BWAY, the company pursued growth through acquisitions, snapping up three plastic-container makers in 2003, 2004 and 2006, respectively, by tapping loan agreements. By the fourth quarter of 2006, BWAY owed long-term debt of $418 million, up from $112.8 million in 2001.The next year, Kelso partially cashed in by taking BWAY public at $15 a share. The deal raised $150 million. Kelso retained 44 percent of the company.In 2008, BWAY closed plants in Franklin Park, Illinois, and Cleveland, Ohio. The next year, it closed some division offices and "eliminated" 25 salaried positions, according to a BWAY securities filing. Those cuts saved the company $3.1 million in 2009, it said.Kelso declined to comment.Around this time, the Fed initiated its first round of quantitative easing, which entailed buying as much as $1.25 trillion in mortgage securities and $300 billion in Treasury bonds, among other measures. In a March 18, 2009, statement, the Fed said: "Job losses, declining equity and housing wealth, and tight credit conditions have weighed on consumer sentiment and spending. … The Federal Reserve will employ all available tools to promote economic recovery and to preserve price stability."And thus the yield chase began. The sheer volume of Fed demand drove up bond prices, pushing down yields and prompting investors to hunt for better returns. Sales of junk bonds in 2009 more than doubled from the previous year to $146 billion.LESS EQUITY REQUIREDKelso began looking for a buyer for its 44 percent holding in BWAY. In early 2010, Goldman Sachs Group Inc, acting as financial adviser, at one point told a BWAY committee that with demand strong in the bond markets, private-equity firms wouldn't have to kick in as much equity as they had in previous years to secure debt financing from banks, according to a securities filing.Madison Dearborn in June 2010 completed the $915 million acquisition of BWAY. The deal involved about $689 million in debt financing and resulted in the paying down of $457 million of existing BWAY debt. Shareholders received $20 a share, a 15 percent premium to where the stock was trading before the deal was announced. An additional $5.5 million went to affiliates of Madison Dearborn for "transaction fees" and "out-of-pocket expenses."As the deal was wrapping up in January 2010, BWAY decided to close a plastic-bucket plant in Toccoa, Georgia, it had acquired when it bought a company in 2004. According to a Georgia Department of Labor press release at the time, 90 workers would lose their jobs.Richard Smith, a 21-year veteran of the plant, was at the meeting where a BWAY executive delivered the news. "Everything was good," he says. "Next thing you know, we had a meeting. … We're going to be shutting the doors." Smith had helped keep the machines running that produced buckets. "I was going to retire from that place," he says. "It was a good place to work. I had a good name."Smith says BWAY offered him a job in another Georgia town, but he felt that he couldn't uproot his wife and family from Toccoa. He had been earning $760 a week at BWAY. Unemployment insurance paid him $280 a week for a year and a half. He now does maintenance work for a local disposal company for about $800 a week.Meanwhile, Madison Dearborn's acquisition of BWAY closed in June 2010. Four months later, it pocketed about $138.4 million from a BWAY sale of PIK notes.Moody's downgraded BWAY's "corporate family" rating to B2 from B1. Edward Schmidt, a packaging analyst at Moody's, said in a report at the time: "BWAY's pro-forma credit metrics leave little room for any negative variance in operating performance." He said the downgrade reflected a "deterioration in pro-forma credit metrics" and "the potential for free cash flow to be used for acquisitions rather than for debt reduction."In October, BWAY acquired plastics maker Plastican Inc from a Leominster, Massachusetts, family for $40.9 million in cash. At the time, Plastican was operating plants in Macon, Georgia; Leominster, Massachusetts; Dallas, Texas; and Phoenix, Arizona.BWAY began closing Plastican plants. Larry Williams was working as a quality manager at Plastican's plant in southwest Phoenix when the new owners "came in and said we have jobs for everybody," he says.A December 2010 document reviewed by Reuters shows that BWAY had already drafted a $1.2 million plan that included moving newer machines out of Phoenix to replace older ones at other plants. The aim, according to the document, was "to increase our chances of success while reducing the risk of our customers feeling the effects of the moves.""NEVER A GOOD THING"BWAY told Williams it had a job for him - across the country in Lithonia, Georgia. He applied, ready to move his family, but "they put us off and put us off," Williams says.The father of four still had three children at home. He finally landed a job in Phoenix at a company that makes reusable produce crates. He earns roughly what he made at Plastican. "It was a huge relief," says the 53-year-old. "Uncertainty is never a good thing."When BWAY bought Plastican, Sanders Walker, the former quality manager now living with his wife in a mobile home, says a BWAY executive assured employees that the factory in Macon wouldn't close. In September 2011, BWAY decided to shut the Macon plant.Platinum Equity, commenting for BWAY, said the company "made clear from Day 1, in the press release announcing the Plastican acquisition, that plant closings were likely." It said BWAY doesn't discuss individual employees or personnel matters. It also said BWAY helped those who were terminated in Macon and Phoenix, providing advance notice of the closures, severance and encouragement to apply for jobs at other BWAY plants. About 20 employees expressed an interest in staying with the company, it said; half were transferred to four different facilities.Maintenance manager Kent Mize got a job one day after as a facilities maintenance manager for the Georgia Department of Defense. His earnings at Plastican peaked at about $58,000; he now makes $37,000. Largely because he couldn't afford the mortgage payments, "I ended up having to sell my home," he says in a voice raspy from treatments for throat cancer.In the fall of 2011, as the third year of quantitative easing was coming to a close, the Fed increased its bond buying, and again in September 2012.The following month, Platinum Equity agreed to buy BWAY from Madison Dearborn for $1.24 billion.In the last full fiscal year under Madison Dearborn's stewardship, ending September 30, 2012, the number of hourly employees at BWAY fell to 2,400 from 2,600, according to securities filings. Net sales totaled $1.18 billion, up slightly from $1.16 billion in 2011.Platinum Equity put up $269 million of its own cash to acquire BWAY. To help finance the rest, BWAY issued $335 million in PIK toggle junk bonds that paid a 9.5 percent coupon. Investor demand for BWAY's relatively high-yield junk was stronger than ever; similar bonds the company sold in 2010 had to pay a higher coupon of 10.875 percent. As a result of the deal, "we have a substantial amount of debt," BWAY said in its annual securities filing for 2012.Platinum Equity, operating from offices in Beverly Hills, California, was founded in 1995 by Tom Gores, who immigrated to the U.S. from Israel with his family when he was four years old. Gores is also the majority owner of Palace Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Detroit Pistons professional basketball team.Two months after Platinum Equity's purchase of BWAY, BWAY bought Ropak Packaging, another plastic-container maker, for $268 million in cash, financed with additional borrowing totaling $261 million and the use of a loan agreement.In May this year, BWAY sold $285 million in PIK notes to pay a dividend to its new owner.In a report issued after the payout, Moody's said the "debt-financed dividend, previous debt-financed acquisitions and PIK note debt in the capital structure demonstrate the company's financial aggressiveness." While noting BWAY's "dominant share in the U.S.," it also said that "BWAY's acquisitiveness and financial aggressiveness clearly heighten both operational and financial risk," and that after the dividend, "the sponsor retains little equity in the business.""A PRETTY QUICK PULL"The speed with which both Platinum Equity and Madison Dearborn were able to recoup a big chunk of their initial investments through PIK toggle sales "is a pretty quick pull of dividends," says Cohen of Covenant Review.Platinum Equity also has done well as an adviser to BWAY, according to an August regulatory filing. An advisory affiliate of the firm received $5 million in fees for "financing advisory services" in the sale of the PIK notes. A few months earlier, it got $5 million for "transaction advisory services" on BWAY's acquisition of Ropak. In March of this year, BWAY paid the affiliate another $5 million to cover a "2013 annual management fee."Platinum Equity said its "operational transformation" of BWAY resulted in a 31% increase in adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization to $180.5 million in the nine months ended September 30, 2013, from a year earlier, thanks largely to the Ropak acquisition, cost cuts and increased capital spending. It said executives have scoured BWAY for ways to improve operations. Among recent cost-saving measures: eliminating rubber gaskets that had been used in lids for plastic pails.It also said BWAY's strong performance has "allowed BWAY to both reinvest in the company and return capital to shareholders." BWAY's sales, Platinum Equity said, rose 25% to $364.4 million in the quarter ended September 30 from a year earlier, while employment is up 25%, due mostly to the Ropak deal.In April, one month before BWAY sold the PIK notes, it notified the Texas Workforce Commission that it would be shutting a Plastican plant in Dallas.Platinum said it was moving production from one of BWAY's least efficient plants to one of Ropak's most efficient, in Mansfield, Texas. Sixty-nine people were laid off with the Dallas plant's closure.
If You Owned a Mobile Home That Was Paid For...?
If you owned a mobile home that was paid for...?Save up for a good down payment on a modular home, not a mh, the insulation, window, are energy rated and will save you money. Look for sales, discontinued models— — — — — —Heating alternatives for rental unit (mobile home).?The breaker panel almost certainly would have to be upgraded to provide electric heat (expensive) and there's far more risk of fire and burnt kids' fingers with electric heating. Why not include a certain quantity of oil in the annual lease and if they need more they have to buy it themselves?— — — — — —how to build steps for a mobile home?Having done both and having lived in 3, I suggest certainly you can get books and advice from major Home stores, but it might be to your advantage in time, energy, and monetary expense to consider wrought iron, pre made, specific to mobiles. A Porch is another matter, and certainly may need permits? An easy method I use often is concrete footers, poured into 2 ft deep holes, then Pier Block (Adjustable bracket type) 2 x 6 or 2 x 8 treated lumber for the framework, 4 x 4 treated lumber for the supports, and either the 5/8,,, 7/8,,, or 2 x material for the deck itself. Depending on the total size, and the weight load, I usually do "joists" 24 inches on center, with bracing perpendicular at 24 inches as well. I use carriage bolts to secure all the framework, and perhaps galvanized "hangers", and galvanized decking screws of an appropriate length to secure the decking material. I also "Treat" after the fact with something like "Thompsons". Steven Wolf— — — — — —I live in a mobile home that is 8 yrs....?This category is about mobile PHONES, not mobile homes— — — — — —How do I sell my mobile home and find a rental house?I think you will be sorry to start renting again.Especially with three dogs. I would look into land to buy. You can make payments with little or no down payment. I know it costs to move a mobile home, but it would be worth it. Can you get a loan for that? Do not let your parents rush you into a move you will regret— — — — — —Deed Transfer of Land and Mobile Home?when you take off the tires, it becomes real estate! enjoy— — — — — —Is it wise to move walls in a mobile home?Is your home set on a foundation? If you have it on a permanent foundation, or ideally, over a basement, it would be considered are al' property & would not depreciate like one in a park. Then your improvements would pay off better. I've seen homes on their own land with a basement underneath selling for about the same as stick built homes in the same area. Doubles hold their value a little longer than singles, do what you want to be happy in your home. I have a single in a park & lose about $1,000. a year in value, but I just redid my kitchen because I wanted to. I am happy with my house & plan on keeping it. As for moving walls, I had an old trailer that I took down a wall between the kitchen & living room. It was easy & opened it up. I would find someone knowledgeable to check if the walls you want removed are load bearing.— — — — — —Can't cool off my mobile home.?very confusing matter search on to the search engines this could actually help— — — — — —Is it safe to put a large aquarium in a mobile home?I had a queen sized water bed in my trailer for 6 years with no problems. Water weighs 8.8lbs per gallon, the way I had my water bed set up it was directly over the main steel i-beams that run down the middle of the trailer so the closer you can keep it to the middle of the place, the better IMO— — — — — —is mobile home park a good investment?The typical tenant of a mobile home park is usually lower income, or on public assistance. Of course, there are exceptions, but I am talking the average, typical tenant. As such, your risk of unpaid rents is high, along with risk of damage to facilities, illegal drug factories, domestic violence, gang activity, crime etc, etc. Your risk of being sued in case someone gets injured or killed in the park is high, and your insurance rates will reflect that risk. It would also be difficult for you to raise rents because of the higher chance of tenant's inability to pay. If you can be relatively sure that you can get good, long term clientele, then like any other investment it could turn out very successfully for you. Suggest you do research thoroughly before you proceed much further.
Mobile Home Gas Furnas?
USA Have a licensed HVAC technician check it out. The only way a motor would hum after shutting off is if there was a backfeed of voltage, possibly through a ground fault or neutral. If it definitely is the motor, the wiring has to be checked from the motor terminals back through the controls to find the fault. Please hire a licensed HVAC tech to do the trouble shooting and repairs. I have seen too many mobile home park "handymen" and "repairmen" perform repairs that they did not know what they were doing, sometimes with disastrous results (last year in PA a family of three was killed in a mobile home fire due to a bad furnace).1. Are Mobile Bars/Pubs allowed in the USA?Liquor licensing and laws are handled by the states and in some cases the cities. There is no federal law on the subject of when and where alcohol can be served. For example, it is legal in at least parts of Nevada (never bothered to check at the state level, but I know about Las Vegas and Laughlin) to consume alcohol in public simply walking down the side walk. Everywhere I have lived minors are not allowed to go where the alcohol is served so they would have to setup some sort of barrier around the truck or booth.2. Downloading a zip folder on mobileform your concern, I got two case for the first case: if you allow the users to download the file directly then its taking one click action(that is too much friendly to your users in case of usability) and you can feel the smile of your clients or users.for the second case: In this case users have to put there email id , have to click the download/send button and then they have to go to there mail and then they have to find where the download link is , and then they will get the file by clicking the link.process is quit large. still these process is too much on the market to get more user/ traffic/ client. but its irritating to user to share there email.Now a days many people are very aware to not getting spam in there mail. So may be to share email id with your site may will be the one reason to get less traffic and user as comparison to first case.(no doubt if the user are your trusted user they will do not hesitate to share their email).As per my knowledge base i will choose the one click download button instead of mail the ZIP file but in case of the mobile you can give a reminder option via mail service . that is a good and popular Idea now a days.3. What are mobile homes sitting on?Usually the home is taken off the wheels and exels, but most mobile homes are sitting on cender blocks and are tied down. I would poor cement walls for the mobile home to make sure it was better secured, but laws are different in all states. Good Luck4. Mobile phone power packsGo ahead and use the phone battery for your logic supply. Then, series wire individual, high current L-ion cells to make your motor battery. It's good practice to keep the noisy, high-current stuff on a different buss, away from your processor. Invest in a smart (processor driven) charger that can monitor the voltage of each cell and charge them evenly. It can also detect a cell that is weak. Weak cells charge and discharge very quickly, and they must be removed from the battery.DC/DC converters are not very efficient. They generate their own noise on the source and sink sides. And, they get expensive for the current levels required by a pair of motors5. Mobile navigation comparison [duplicate]Without question, your recommendation is cleaner, less busy, more subtle. The choices of action are fewer, and therefore more clear.Do they really want that big head panel to appear in addition to your proposed menu and time bar? If so, and I understand what elements are links, then it seems to me, too, that there's needless and confusing redundancy. If they want their big head panel instead of your cleaner approach, that would eliminate the duplication. But even then, I would move their big bar down to the bottom because the photo of the island is the pull, not their text (man, that is a big bar!). And move the "4" into the "play now" box. In sum, as long as they want to replace rather than duplicate, I would say there's not a lot to choose between them from a psychological standpoint. Theirs, especially at the size shown, is a "bullhorn" approach and will appeal to people who are comfortable with tv and tabloid news because those two modalities also use a bullhorn approach. So if that's their target demographic, go with it. But if they want to target a more upscale demographic, they should avoid the bullhorn and go for subtle. Or you could split the difference by shrinking their bar to a less-intrusive size, moving it to the bottom, integrating it with your design elements, etc
Can a Mobile Home Sunroom Hold the Weight of a Spa in a Box (2,500 Lbs Full)?
you will HAVE to reinforce the floor joists, they are not designed to take even half that weight, you best sister those joists with matching size lumber, which means if you have 2x8 then use the same or if they are 2x8, and so on, sister means to add on the side, basically laminate, I would sister at least one side, but prefer both sides of the joist. glue on first, then screw it together, then once thats done to an area at least 2-3' past where the tub will sit in every direction, best to go full length if you can, then you should add additional supports to the ground, you can use wood, but dont let it touch the ground, best to us pre cast concrete 4x4 post holders, then use 4x4 up to the newly sistered joists, treated 4x4's will be best, have one of these every 3-4 feet, then get tubbin1. we need blinds for our sunroom do you think wooden venitians are a good choice?Wood might be a little heavy and hard to move around2. Leaving the cat in the sunroom?The cat will be okay as long as he has water and shade and ventilation. Cats are better at withstanding high temperatures than people are. Cats can tolerate temps up to 112F comfortably. If you are very worried, you can run the a/c for him. Get a timer switch for the a/c so it can turn on and off several times throughout the day. I have a timer on my a/c so my cat can stay cool during the day when I am at work.3. I have a sunroom w/ long rectangular screens. I can't get them out? please help?The tabs should pull inward. Check around to be sure you get them all. I see it all the time where people miss some of them. Failing that, GENTLY pry all sides and find out where it's binding.4. I have a refurbished sunroom built with three woods: PT, cedar and pine. What color should I stain it?Of course, it depends on how you want to use the room. The cedar sounds beautiful. How would it look if you kept the cedar on the bottom and did a soft white wash above it -- almost as if it had a chair rail? (or soft sage green) Although, since you have the cedar fence I am assuming you can see from this room, you may not need to keep the cedar iin the room in which case you could just paint everything. (more uniform look) You could cover the floor with sisal carpeting... bring in some big planters to bring the outside in. Whitewash the stairs. If you are going to tear it down, I would not worry about staining the fence to match. Good luck and have fun!5. would anyone like info to help keep from being cheated when you purchase a sunroom kit?You are absolutely right. Make sure that you deal with a reputable contractor and make sure your agreement is very detailed and in writing. Check out any references. Do not give any contractor more than a 10% downpayment. A job like this should not take more than a couple of days to build, so do not pay the balance until the job is 100% complete to your satisfaction. Once the contractor has all of his money, you have lost any leverage in getting them back to finish the little things. A good contractor will have no problem with this requirement. One who does not means you do not want to do business with them. Good luck with your screenroom project.6. I have a Temo Sunroom... The roof leaks at the seams.?I have same problem. I did lay down a rolled asphalt roofing over it . I don t see how this cannot solve the problem7. Is it possible to have a bonfire in a screened sunroom?I am quite sure that your local fire code prohibits open flames within a certain distance of a structure. Keep the open flame away from the house and away from screened rooms, even with metal roofs. The metal could get hot, conduct that heat to the wood frame and cause a fire. Not the most common scenario but fuel plus heat can easily equal one more homeless family. Please exercise caution and common sense. Keep the open flame far from the house and trees/bushes. One spark is all it takes. Enjoy your summer.
What Companies Provide Financing for a Mobile Home?
Argent might do it1. For a new startup, what would be the "acceptable" equity percentage given to VC (Series A financing)?Let me try to back into your answer.Once you go to raise a traditional first VC round, really there will be two types of VCs that want to fund you:Seed Stage VCs. These funds are typically 2. Bought car, drove it off the lot I have had it 21 days and dealer still does not have financing. I?Stand firm. The dealer can not force you to sign a new contract. they did a spot delivery and let drive the car off the lot, the y have to honor the contract even if in lender will finance you. The dealer is legally responsible for the contract they signed. Just like you, they have liability to live up to their end of the agreement3. Can I get financing for another home?If you have enough equity in your CURRENT property it might be possible. But if you have to refinance it for a down payment. Probably not. Have you looked at properties where you take someone elses's payments over. And you can even do that through a bank with no down payment. There are lots of options and still opportunity to still acquire property. LOOK at every option. I bet one will work out for you. Good luck!4. What's the difference between margin financing and borrowing money from someone else?When you buy securities on margin, you use your existing positions as collateral.How much you can buy, also called buying power, depends on the type of security (stocks, bonds, options, etc.) you are buying as well as the market value of your portfolio. As the value changes, you may be required to add additional funds to avoid liquidation of your positions.If you borrow money from a bank or other party, it's typically an unsecured personal loan and the interest rate might be a lot higher.Also, you are only able to make cash transactions and the securities you buy are not marginable themselves, so you do not have as much buying power. Finally, most options strategies beyond simple longs or covered calls/cash covered puts require a margin account, even if you do not use margin on a regular basis5. What is meant by business financing?The term business finance is made up of two words business and finance the term business means the regular transaction in goods and services for making profits and the word finance means money ...! This is related to the provision of money at a time when it is needed by the business for meeting the over-all objectives of the enterprise ...!6. How does one make sense of the fact that Putin's government is financing fascist parties in Europe? Didn't the USSR fight a war against fascism?Divide and conquer ! Putin does not care if every country in Europe had a dictator once there was conflict within those countries. It's suits putin to destabilise the EU. He does not want a strong united European Union as that would be a threat to his dictatorship !7. How to get financing on a 10 year old Lexus?Just speak with a finance rep at the bank8. Desperately NEED help with financing motorcycle question.?Yeah, it's a problem. You may want to try re-financing with your bank, as your credit should be pretty good after paying off so much. Sorry to tell you, but this information was all stated in the paperwork that you signed. See if your parents are willing to help you make a balloon payment on the bike, and then you can pay them back.
Pot of Noodles Sparked Trailer Fire That Killed 2 Kids: Cops
BRUNSWICK, Ga. - A pot of noodles cooking on a hot plate sparked a fire inside a camper trailer that killed two young children and critically injured their mother and another sibling in coastal Georgia, authorities said Thursday.A family of five had been living inside the small trailer, designed to be towed behind a vehicle during camping trips, for months after their mobile home caught fire last May, said Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering. The camper was parked on the same lot as the vacated mobile home when neighbours called 911 to report flames and explosions Wednesday.Investigators early Thursday searched the charred remains of the camper just outside the port city of Brunswick, about 70 miles south of Savannah."There was a pot of noodles left on a hot plate on a counter top that was the cause of the fire," Doering said at a news conference.A police officer dispatched to the scene, Eric Koenig, filed a report saying he found William Michael Reeves "screaming and rolling around" in the street outside the burning camper where he lived. Chassity Rain Carter, who lived with Reeves, was in a roadside ditch with burns on her arms and legs, the report said.The couple also had three children in the camper, Doering said. The oldest, three-year-old Blayden Wade Reeves, was found dead at the scene. His four-month-old sister, Tallie Ann Carter, died later at a hospital.Chassity Rain Carter and a two-year-old boy, Brighton Michael Reeves, were in critical condition Thursday at a Florida burn centre, Doering said.Danny O'Neal lives just around the corner from the lot where Reeves and Carter lived with their children. He estimated the family had been living in the camper for about six months, saying they first had lived with a relative after a fire in the bedroom left their mobile home uninhabitable.He described Reeves and Carter as a nice young couple in their 20s, but said they had little money to raise a family."They have been struggling and struggling," O'Neal said.Neighbours would give them food and bags of donated clothing for the children, O'Neal said, adding that he had given them a mattress for the camper and would sometimes offer Reeves scrap metal that he could sell for cash.When the fire broke out Wednesday, O'Neal said, he could hear the couple outside wailing."I heard the worst screams you could ever hear between him and her, about their children being inside," he said.Neighbours reported hearing explosions during the fire, and it's possible that flames detonated some items inside the camper, said Glynn County Fire Chief Randy Jordan."That could be easily aerosol cans that make a loud noise and increase the fireball," Jordan said.Doering said police were initially suspicious because of the May fire that damaged the family's mobile home. But he said there was no evidence of criminal wrongdoing."It was a travel trailer, which is unusual for a family to be living in," Doering said. "It's not designed for that, especially for a family of five."
Living the American Dream in a Trailer Park
Living the American Dream in a Trailer Park - By Sara Terry from on Vimeo.All too often, they're the butt of jokes and stereotypes - mobile home parks and the "trailer trash" who live in them.But the 50,000 parks that are spread across the United States deserve a lot more respect than that. Home to some 20 million people - 6 percent of Americans - they are the nation's largest source of unsubsidized affordable housing, offering a shot at the American dream to people who can't afford a traditional home. And at a time when only 1 in 4 Americans who qualify for government housing assistance actually receives aid, these parks take a huge load off a severely strained system.Historically, trailer parks have been mom-and-pop operations that have turned a tidy profit through lot rentals paid by every tenant each month. People who live in mobile home parks generally own their homes, but not the land they live on, and pay monthly lot rental fees to a park owner - fees that vary widely depending on location, but can be around $700 to $800 in urban areas.Affordable housing activistshave helped some residents - like the residents of Birch and Baker in Boscawen, New Hampshire - featured in the video above - buy their parks and own them as co-ops, to free them from ever-rising rents.But far more common in the past few years has been the phenomenon of investors, such as billionaires Sam Zell and Warren Buffett, catching on to the fact that there's a lot of money to be made in trailer parks - returns of 20 percent or more. Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway owns Clayton Homes, which manufactures nearly half of all mobile homes a year in America. And Zell's Equity LifeStyle Properties (ELS), the largest mobile home park owner in America, has a "controlling interest in nearly 140,000" park lots.The Guardianreports that in 2014 alone,ELS made $777 million in revenue, helping boost Zell's near-$5 billion fortune.In general, residents are between a rock and a hard place when it comes to rent increases: Mobile homes aren't so mobile anymore (they cost thousands of dollars to move, which can be prohibitive for people on fixed or limited incomes), and in many states there are few protections for residents, which mean that park owners can raise rents at their own discretion and are also able to evict residents in as little as 60 days.Mom-and-pop parks - which for years were the hallmark of the industry - tended to make modest yearly increases in lot rentals (if at all). But the standard among investors is to raise rents immediately after buying a park, and to justify large increases by comparing rates to local apartment rentals. In Silicon Valley, which faces one of the worst affordable housing crunches in the country,lot rentals have been jumping- and now range from $1,600 to $2,000 a month for new residents in some parks.These days, mobile home parks aren't such a joke anymore - they've become serious business.
Why Do Some People Say Someone Who Lives in a Mobile Home Are Trailer Trash?
Some people do not want responsibility or effort but want all the benefits. However, nobody can live that way so these people resist. They tend to be poor because jobs that pay well require responsibility and effort, so they gravitate to jobs that pay little. The salary is too low for the lifestyle they think they deserve, so they grab what they can, which in practice means that they place a burden on the people around them. Often, they never learned how normal people live and have no interest in learning. Their ignorance takes them deeper into the pit. I believe all cultures have a moniker for these people. Such moniker may change by region or circumstance. In some areas of the USA, these people are called trailer trash. That is not to say that all the people that live in mobile homes are trailer trash, or that people who do not live in mobile homes are not trailer trash. The moniker applies to people of a certain mindset that act in a particular way.1. Why do so many ppl think that just b/c someone lives in a mobile home, they are "trailer trash"?You may not think you are, but have you looked at your neighbors? That's why we think that. Birds of a feather flock together. To Ben, (below me) It's threw and trailer.2. How do I put an axle and brackets on to a mobile home/trailer to be able to move it from one point to another?demolish that trailer home and buy a house3. how do i get floor plans for a "1994" fleetwood mobile home? (trailer)?This Site Might Help You. RE: how do i get floor plans for a "1994" fleetwood mobile home? (trailer)?4. how should i get rid of mice in mobile home ( trailer )?I had a really bad problem, first, patch up any holes that you see inside your house. Second, get Poison and put it places that children could not get to, IE under cabinets, under or behind the fridge, or any place that you often see them, Next set traps, if all else fails, call an exterminator5. Cost to maintain / buy a mobile home (trailer park)?DO you seriously want my opinion...I live in Fernwood Estates where the tornado hit on christmas day...and I serioulsy would not want you to get involved in a mobile home. I lost my own home and the tornado was 100 ft away. .My family and I still are living out of a friends house...but seriously if you want to..the taxes are a hundred each person and to buy one if you want a single its gonna be around 12,000 if you want a double its gonna be around 20,000 to 30,000 depending on if they fixed it up or not. But all I have to say is good luck...but the taxes might be different I live in Florida.6. If I buy a mobile home (trailer house), would I also own the land beneath it?To answer your question.... yes and no. Some people sell land with the home... some just sell the home. Some mobile homes are actually pinned down to the ground making them no longer "mobile" homes. The listing will say either Manufactured with land or Manufactured without land7. Where can I find a used mobile home trailer place? Jacksonville, FL?IIRC, there a few places around town that deal with repos. However, if your current home 'needs a lot of work', why would anyone want it as a trade?8. All my ex friends r downing me cause i live in a nice brick up mobile home(trailer) what's wrong wit?not unavoidably. My boyfriend's ex from years in the past went out together with his staggering mate - after that that they had damaged up, for sure. She became only a tramp who became going around the houses yet my boyfriend was not that afflicted. He became dissatisfied because his pal did not tell him, and sneaked round, yet i imagine this became because his mate became not happy with who he became courting. I doubt it had something to do with their former relationship - they were together a remember of weeks and not in any respect something ever occurred between them. So, it relies upon how intense the relationship became and how earlier it became. If it became like 2 or more effective years in the past and it turned right into a trifling relationship, then why not? there are such an excellent number of variables regardless of the actuality that. on the proper of the day, in case your pal products, then it really is about making a decision. Is it well worth sacrificing your friendship for the sake of a plausible relationship?
Three Men, a 1985 GTI, the One Lap of America and Why Ralph Nader Hated Us
By Christopher JensenI recently spent about a week driving a 2018 Volkswagen GTI. It astonished me with its polish, packaging and performance. But its enthusiastic little soul was the same as a 1985 GTI in which three of us literally lived for a week, covering more than 8,000 shamelessly high-speed miles in the 1985 One Lap of America.Yes, three people tucked into a GTI driving well in excess of the speed limit, eating, sleeping, dodging cops and trying to beat BMWs, Porsches and an assortment of muscle cars.To be fair, there was one rest stop: 18 hours in Redondo Beach, California.Here's how teammate Bill Sadataki of Cleveland described it: "It is like a salmon. You go on an incredible journey. Then, you die."It was an event that drove safety crusader Ralph Nader crazy. Just before it began he described it as "one of the grossest assaults ever on the 55 mph speed limit. This is an illegal conspiracy to violate the states' laws."Hard to argue with that.Organizer Brock Yates denied any wrongdoing, but to some he had limited credibility. Perhaps it was because he created the all-out, cross-country race called Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, last run in 1979.The One Lap was a theoretically legal descendant of that outlaw Cannonball. And as one might deduce from the name, it was a huge loop, typically starting and ending in Detroit.In its early years - including 1985 - One Lap winners were determined by time-speed-distance (TSD) rallies. The idea of a TSD rally is basically following a course - which you don't know in advance - at specific speeds.You begin at a checkpoint and at an unknown point along the route you encounter another checkpoint. If you followed the route at precisely the prescribed speeds you will hit that checkpoint without being a second early or late. But for each second early or late you get a penalty point.Doesn't sound hard, but it gets tricky on twisty roads with variables like driving at night, bad weather and lots of speed changes. Plus, you don't know the route. You're constantly looking for the next turn. So, if you miss a turn, how fast do you have to go to compensate? How much time did you lose at that stop sign?But the important thing was that in a TSD rally a good team in a humble, little GTI could beat a Corvette or Porsche or anything else out there.In between those rallies were the transits. They could easily be 1,000 miles or more. For example we left Houghton, Michigan the night of March 2nd and were due late the next night in Somers, Montana. That's about 1,400 miles.Competitors were given a time at which they must arrive at the next TSD section. Yates proclaimed that an on-time arrival could be done by averaging 55 miles per hour, which was then the speed limit in most states. So, he said, it was not a Cannonball. It was all legal and safe.He said all this with a straight face.But driving at 55 mph between Houghton and Somers would take about 25 hours and the competitors had no intention of such a dawdle. For one thing it was boring and if you could cover the transit in 18 hours instead of 25 you could get something good to eat and perhaps sleep for a few hours and be more competitive on the rally. You might even be able to go to the bathroom.A high speed mobile homeWe had a silver GTI assembled in Westmoreland, Pennsylvania. Volkswagen provided the vehicle and my newspaper - The Plain Dealer of Cleveland - covered the expenses. For the 1985 even the three of us were William Sadataki, also of Cleveland, and Ken Knight, a Volkswagen engineer.The GTI was basically a fast-moving, low-profile mobile home in which we engaged in a kind of high-speed lunatic lifestyle. The only goal was to go to the next place as quickly as possible - and not be thrown in jail or wind up along side the road in a crumpled, little silver ball.There was no music. We constantly monitored a police scanner hoping to hear about speed traps. It had been built into the interior, nicely hidden from a cop's sight. You can do this when the factory helps.To minimize down time we carried freeze-dried meals and prepared them using near-boiling water heated by an immersion heater. The person in the back seat was responsible for preparing the meals, ideally without any second or third-degree burns. Heat the water, carefully pour into packet and hope the driver doesn't slam on the brakes for a radar trap.Our routine was to share driving for maybe seven or eight hours and then crawl into the back seat to sleep. GTI cognoscenti will recognize that backseat and sleep do not seem to go together. Indeed, there wasn't much room but we defeated discomfort with drugs. A slightly larger-than-normal dose of sleeping pills guaranteed seven or eight hours.When the sleeper awakened he'd take over navigating which provided time to assure something like consciousness before driving. Always a nice thing at higher speeds.We always loved seeing how the other teams turned into sleep-deprived desperadoes, while we remained alert, if smelly and yearning for bathroom stops. We didn't stop until the tank was on fumes.Once a competitor walked past our GTI at a gas stop, looked at one of us curled up sound asleep and muttered: "I don't understand how he can sleep." We saw another competitor literally fall asleep at the banquet table when the event ended in Detroit.The police and other problemsThe route had been publicized and in many states the police set up ambushes. One of those was in Wyoming where the state police pulled over a dozen or so of us. We came over a hill and they waved the whole group over.Our little silver GTI was the only one to get away.The reason: It simply didn't look like a high-speed outlaw. And while the other competitors were plastered with "One Lap of America" stickers we put ours on magnetic backing so they could be removed on the transits. They were required for the rallies and we'd slap them back on after the transits.We drove all day and all night and had a set of huge Hella driving lights. Those were mounted on a rack that could be removed during the day, helping us to maintain that low profile.As a Wyoming state trooper walked past, I rolled down the window (yes, rolled down the window) and said: "You didn't want us, did you?"He paused ever-so briefly, looked at the Volkswagen and decided it was a boring, little shit box of an economy car pulled over by mistake. He waved us out.A shit-eating grinWe had Escort radar detectors facing forward and rearward. That typically worked in our favor - except in Del Rio, Texas.I'd been hammering through the dark in the middle of nowhere (residents of West Texas may disagree about "nowhere") but heading into town I slowed to just below the speed limit. It was, after all a town. Exiting town I began to slowly accelerate and was whapped with instant-on radar.A local cop pulled me over and told me I was six miles per hour over the speed limit. Then, came a shit-eating grin so enormous it lit up that old Texas sky."Normally, I would give you a warning for that, but seeing as how you have two radar detectors I am going to make an exception in your case," he said. And he gave me a ticket.But sometimes we won such encounters.Crossing from Nevada into Arizona - again at night - I was racing along a two lane with my left foot poised above the brake. As soon as I heard the Escort's brap warning sound I braked very hard: in those days decelerating quickly enough could keep the radar from getting a lock.On the police scanner we heard him report that one of the One Lap cars was headed south, but he couldn't lock in the speed. Honest guy.The blizzard and the wieniesBad weather could also be an issue and a delight.One leg was from Houghton, Michigan to Somers, Montana. About 1,400 miles. Heading into Montana on Interstate 90 it began snowing harder and harder. On the police scanner we could hear the cops talking about possibly closing the interstate.But we decided we weren't stopping for anything despite not having snow tires. Soon, the interstate was so deep in snow that figuring out where it went involved some guesswork when the tracks of other vehicles were covered over: Well, there's a wide flat area that way and the ground is lower on each side, so maybe that is the road. Maybe.Meanwhile there was an interesting drama on the scanner. A local sheriff had seen an Audi 5000 S Turbo Quattro zoom past him at what he correctly considered a crazy speed and he pursued. What he didn't know was that it was driven by rally champion John Buffum. The cop never had a chance. He was literally wailing into his microphone about not being able to keep up.We bored through the storm and in moonlight arrived at the checkpoint on time, preceded by Buffum in the Audi and a Chrysler LeBaron GTS driven by Phil Hill, a Formula One World Champion and John Lamm, a fellow journalist.Unfortunately we learned that 50 of our 78 competitors were so worried by the storm they hunkered down at a service area. Yates scornfully described it as a "Donner Party mentality" but decided to throw out the stage. All our effort was for naught.The foundation of a legendSeventy-one of those 78 teams finished. Seven quit due to mechanical problems or fatigue. There were no accidents.First place went to Buffum and the Audi with 50 penalty points. Credit also to his super navigator Tom Grimshaw. Another Audi took second. We wound up in 13th with 1,582 points, largely the result of brain fade in New Orleans: we started a leg precisely 15 minutes early.Back then the GTI wasn't as widely known and admired as today.But we typically covered transits almost as quickly as Buffum's Audi and we were often followed by a BMW team who admired the GTI's low-profile, high-speed ability.Volkswagen has now produced seven generations of GTIs with a new one expected in 2019. The GTI has become something of a legend in blending practicality with an appetite for traveling long distances at high speeds on either two lanes or the interstate. And that squared-off 1985 we drove was a part of that foundation.
Mobile Home Parks Become Immigrants' Home Away From Home
AVON, Colo. - The Aspens Mobile Home Village sits on a wedge of land tucked between eastbound I-70 and the Eagle River in the mountains near Vail. The park is easy to miss in the blur of freeway speeds - trees, a fence, trailers flashing past before the blue sign for Exit 167 zooms into view, advertising Burger King and Subway and Fiesta Jalisco.The Aspens is unobtrusive, the way people who don't live in mobile homes parks tend to prefer them, and in this it sets itself apart from the county's largest park about 10 minutes down the road in Edwards. That park, Eagle River Village, has been in the news for its persistent, still unresolved poor water quality. Its row after row of weary, faded trailers rise from the river up the hillside toward the million-dollar plus homes and golf courses of Cordillera.The two parks are among 31 in Eagle County. These communities vary in size from tiny to sprawling - the county counts a total of 1,248 mobile homes - but nearly all are filled with people who work in the hospitality, service and construction industries. The mobile homes in them are, in a county where homes and rentals are notoriously pricey, an economic necessity. Low-wage workers who keep hotel rooms clean and golf courses tended in tourism-dependent mountain towns must live somewhere nearby and relatively affordable.Aspens Mobile Home Village has 159 spots for trailers, 158 of which are occupied. The park is nearly 50 years old, but well-maintained, its trailers new and refurbished with pitched roofs and siding and its playground teeming with the children and grandchildren of housekeepers, painters, framers, roofers, gardeners, landscapers, fast-food cooks, cashiers and nannies. Flowerbeds and pots burst with late-summer blossoms.As in other mobile home parks, the residents own the trailers and rent the lot spaces, which, here, run around $1,100 a month. This does not include gas, electric or cable. The manager is Agustina Del Hoyo, who since 2008 somehow has navigated the line between enforcer and mother hen. She says she is not certain how many people actually live in the Aspens, but one night she did go through and count 525 vehicles."We have people here from all over, from Russia, from Bulgaria, from Jamaica, from Honduras, we have Vietnamese, but about 75 per cent are Latino," she says.Most are immigrants. As in many immigrant communities, some arrived legally and some didn't. To the residents' own surprise, a few years here suddenly became 12, 15, 20 years. The Aspens is home, the mothers here will tell you, even if some part of their hearts insists that it is not, not really, because home is the place of their childhoods, the place where their parents still live or are buried. Home is what they have built or are building in Aguascalientes or Chihuahua or Guerrero with the money they've sent back, the houses waiting there, paid for by all the beds changed and carpets vacuumed and drywall installed here.But during their many years in Avon, residents have married and their children were born or grew up here. Families have remodeled their trailers, adding more windows, new porches, floors of wood and tile, countertops of granite and Corian. When one of the mothers suggests to her family that maybe they should just look at buying a house - it'd been almost 20 years since they moved from Mexico - her two daughters protested and cried, she says. This is the only home they have known."I live with my heart divided," says another mother, who has lived in Avon for nearly 22 years, the last five of those in the Aspens. She crossed the border illegally, leaving behind her parents, most of her siblings, her nieces and nephews, "the people I love," in a village in Aguascalientes. She has spent almost half her life in this pretty mountain town, but says that once she and her husband have finished repairing their trailer here, they will finish building a home in Mexico, too. Maybe one day they will return. Maybe they will not.In this place, among many of these residents, a trailer is more than a home, it is a metaphor for their lives as immigrants, a place of temporary permanence, fixed but not rooted.___A NEW RHYTHMThe days in the Aspens village begin with bedroom lights spilling into predawn darkness. Construction and landscaping workers head out in a caravan of cars and trucks to put in as many hours as they can now, before the snow falls. If summer is their time, winter belongs to the housekeepers, the hospitality workers who ramp up their hours during ski season. The women leave for work in waves to the hotels, to the hospital, and to the houses to which they bring order for $11 to $17 an hour. Morning in the Aspens carries the voices of its children heading out in clumps of backpacks, hoodies and lunch bags, past the hollyhocks and sunflowers, past the oldtimers watching from their porches, to the elementary school across the street and the bus stop at the park's entrance. In the evening, the tide reverses itself, and the air, they say, carries the smells of their suppers: onions, beef, tortillas.Five months ago, a new rhythm began in the park. On Thursday nights, women started gathering for what Del Hoyo, the manager, calls Entre Mujeres (Between Women). She organized the group because too often the women who came to her office to pay rent ended up sitting across from her, pouring out their hearts about their work, their kids and marriages, their homesickness and longing for mothers, sisters and friends. A mobile home park leaves little room for privacy, but lack of privacy is no hedge against loneliness or isolation. Living right next to someone does not by default make them a neighbour.Del Hoyo, the daughter of Mexican immigrants, felt a connection with these women. She, too, had left a family behind in California. She, too, understands the enormous amount of faith and fortitude it takes to leave the familiar for the unknown."Every day, 24 hours, these ladies are working. They are working their jobs, working at home, so they need one hour a week to be a woman," Del Hoyo says, punctuating the air with her finger when she says "a woman." ''This time is for them, only themselves. They need help. They need support. I say to them, 'When you talk to one friend, it is like medicine. With all of us together, it is like a pharmacy.'"Nothing beats a trailer park for word-of-mouth. A strange car drives through too slowly and someone is calling Agustina. A state wildlife officer shows up nearby at the report of a bear, and someone calls Agustina. Doors generally stay closed to strangers. So, at first, it was only a few women who'd show up for the group, but in time the numbers have grown, and on a recent Thursday about two dozen women bearing baked chicken, pasta, watermelon, tamales, fry bread, salads and sweets gathered in the community space adjacent to the office.It is not easy to let themselves be vulnerable, but they share their worries and most are those of working mothers everywhere: how their children are doing in school, problems at work, bills, sick parents, a lack of health insurance, fatigue. "Every day of my life is a sacrifice," one woman says to the group, and the others nod.But there is another layer of vulnerability here: To live in the U.S. without papers is to live with ongoing uncertainty and the ever-present thrum of anxiety. They say it is much worse now that Trump is president. So, they talk about that, too, about carrying their fear, about trying not to think about it, and about whether and how they should prepare their children for a day they might not come home. "La migra can pick me up anywhere," says the mother with the divided heart. "I could be at home, at school, at work, at the store."Though fear weighs on them, they say they are grateful for their lives here, for the work, for the better pay, for the schools and the parks and a belief that this is a much safer place than back home. "I will go home if Trump sends me back, but I hope he doesn't," says a mother from Aguascalientes who came on a work visa and then overstayed. "There is no work there. No hay nada."This is how it goes in the women's group: they talk, they laugh, they cry, they eat, they laugh some more, they get to know one another, they walk back home. Their husbands want to know how it went. Through the week, they send texts to the group, checking up on each other, or just checking in. Good morning, they write. Good night, they write. This is one way a mobile home park becomes a community.___CONNECTED BUT NOT ATTACHEDThere is a woman living in the Aspens who comes from Mexico City. She had two years of college and was working as a school administrator, evaluating teachers, she says, when she fell in love with her future husband, a landscaper who migrated back and forth to the U.S. every summer. Her father did not approve. "That's a crazy life" he told her. Her father raised all three of his kids after their mother died. "I will be your mother and your father now," she remembers him saying. "You will have to be strong," he told her. She was eight years old.She left for the U.S. with her soon-to-be husband. She left without telling her father she was leaving and crossed the border illegally in 2001. Two days and one night walking through the desert, she says. Then a safe house in Tucson. She phoned her father from there. He told her she was dead to him and not to call him again. Her soon-to-be-husband told her that she needed to forget the life she had in Mexico. That was over.The woman found a job at a local Avon business. She and her husband had two children. The couple arranged their work lives so they wouldn't have to hire a babysitter. We will each work only one job, she told her husband. We will not share our home with cousins or friends. This was the unspoken bargain in trying to forget Mexico: If we are going to live here, she told her husband, we are going to have a life here.When they moved into the Aspens six years ago, they gutted the empty trailer that occupied the spot. It was in bad shape; like a lot of mobile homes in old trailer parks, the "mobile" part was largely fiction. And so the couple lay hard-wood floors and installed beautiful wood cabinetry and gleaming counters and appliances. They hung a flat screen TV on a wall of wood mosaic and a picture of Jesus above the kitchen table. On the rare mornings when she has the house to herself, the woman sits at the end of the table where she can see the mountains through the window above the kitchen sink.Her father gave up his anger after one year and then he and his second wife and their three young children - their youngest was 4 - crossed the desert, too. That was 15 years ago. Her father, like so many immigrants she says she knows, took two jobs, worked all the time, saved money. "So, he made his houses back in Mexico, and he made his tax payments there, but he didn't make a life."This will not happen to her, she says, and she is coming to the realization that for the 18 years she has lived as wife and mother and employee, "the sad part is that I forgot about myself."So, she is now volunteering for different organizations, and going to the Mujeres meetings with other women straddling the same in-betweenness of being not quite homeowners, yet not quite renters, and the same neither-here-nor-thereness of no longer living in their old countries, but not fully in the new. The woman walks a line between connecting with this new place without becoming too attached. Her family, too, has a house in Mexico, and if one day it all goes poof here, well, she says, "we came into this world without houses and we will leave it without them.""I do not want to live thinking about what might happen," she says. "I want the life in front of me."
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