Mud storm cleanup not so easy

Window cleaner: ‘I’ve never had to deal with this level of grit’

Jim Stump of Jim’s Cleaning Service of Durango cleans grime Friday from the windows of Caldwell Banker Heritage House Realtors offices at Eighth Street and Main Avenue. Enlarge photo

SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald

Jim Stump of Jim’s Cleaning Service of Durango cleans grime Friday from the windows of Caldwell Banker Heritage House Realtors offices at Eighth Street and Main Avenue.

Since Monday’s storm – when the sky wept mud all over the Four Corners – downtown Durango, usually a showcase of gleaming windows, has struggled to get itself in order.

Though on Friday, many cars were still encrusted in a tight mesh of overlapping dirt streaks, looking like they were on the losing side of a desert war, downtown Durango’s buildings were hands down the storm’s biggest victims.

Mark Flores, owner of MFTEnt, a window-washing operation, said that since the storm hit, he’s never been busier in his life.

“I am overwhelmed. At first it was a little scary because I am the kind of person who likes to make everybody happy. But I’ve had to turn a lot of work down,” said Flores.

One of the big emotional losses Flores has been recouping from is the work he did cleaning windows last weekend. “They all had to be done again,” said Flores. “I have a weather guarantee – it’s kind of like insurance – and I’ve had to go back to a lot of the residential customers I saw last week. So I’ve had to eat it.”

Flores said he didn’t mind the extra labor because he was so eager to please his customers.

But he said that many of the cleaning jobs were unusually tall orders.

In an interview Friday afternoon, Flores said the building he was currently working on, BREW Pub and Kitchen at 117 W. College Drive, was the worst-hit in town. “They’ve got everything coming in from the west, with soot from the train and dust on top of the mud,” he said.

Some windows fared better than others.

Five days after the storm, long trailing arcs of mud still plastered the glass front of Guido’s Favorite Foods, at 1201 Main Ave., which in the afternoon light appeared flaky and brown like giant dried blood spatters.

Those windows got off lightly. The Irish Embassy Pub’s exterior looked like shower curtains whose time has come.

On Friday evening, the narrow windows on the rear side of City Hall remain coated in an interlacing layer of filth so thick that from across the street it looks like a medieval ruin under siege from exploding cowpat.

Many store owners aborted their amateur attempts at window cleaning on finding the mud was too stubborn.

Window washer Flores said that the mud’s intransigence was due to grit.

“I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and I have to tell you this storm was phenomenal. I’ve never had to deal with this level of grit on glass,” he said.

On the corner of East Second Avenue and Seventh Street, the interior design store Artesanos, which has stunning windows, for the most looked like a large-scale Jackson Pollock rendered in scum.

Linda Hunt, who was managing the store on Friday afternoon, said her husband had earlier tried to clean one side of the building with a hose.

“To no avail,” said Hunt, pointing at floor-length glass panels that looked less like windows to the outside world than billowing curtains of mud blur.

Hunt said the shop was likely to get professionals involved, saying cleaning them was proving to be a “big project” beyond the scope of window-washing laymen.

Jamie Lister, owner of Jamie’s Fine Jewelry Shop on 10th Street, managed to rub most of the mud from her windows, though the tops of her windows – which were out of arms’ reach – remained speckled with stray sprays of mud droplets. But even after serious washing, they were blurry with swirling circular streaks.

“They’re kind of half-cleaned,” said Lister, saying water and soap was insufficient. “They really need to be squeegeed.”

Rod Barker, owner of the Strater Hotel, said such displays of cleaning zeal, while admirable, were a fool’s game.

The Strater has more than 200 windows, he said, and they’d been pelted with grime from all sides.

“They’re a mess,” he said, “but I’ve seen this so many times. Cleaning them is always a chore. I think it would do a real disservice to everybody if we washed them now, because then, of course, we’d be certain to have another storm.

“So it’s better to wait a while – safer for everybody,” he said, laughing.

cmcallister@durangoherald.com

Some windows, including this one at 1201 Main Ave., appeared flaky and brown like giant dried-blood spatters after Monday’s dust storm. Enlarge photo

SHANE BENJAMIN/Durango Herald

Some windows, including this one at 1201 Main Ave., appeared flaky and brown like giant dried-blood spatters after Monday’s dust storm.

Dust from Arizona and New Mexico filled the skies, and rain fell like tiny drops of mud Monday, caking building and car windows. Enlarge photo

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald

Dust from Arizona and New Mexico filled the skies, and rain fell like tiny drops of mud Monday, caking building and car windows.

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