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All Hands Volunteers, Project Catskills, Project Leogane, volunteers

The Mud Taxonomy

Project Gonaives brought dirty to a whole new level. Volunteers spent every day of the 5+ month project shoveling the mud swept into houses by landslides. As different thicknesses and consistencies of mud necessitate different tools and techniques a glossary was put together and words like slud (wet mud found on the top of the stack) and cludd (“mud infused with clothing/bedding/masonry ceiling panels” etc.) entered the All Hands vocabulary – along with the “claw”, a term for the muscle cramps that prevent you from uncurling your hands after a long day of shoveling or sledge hammering. More mud followed in Leogane in the wake of Hurricane Tomas and in both Minot and the Catskills on the domestic front. We’ve added grud to the list (mud with a high gravel content) and found plenty of examples of the rest! We also all learned through numerous lessons, never to open a fridge that’s sat, unopened and full of food for many weeks. The weak of stomach have lost breakfasts over it and halfway through a killer job site the last thing you want is to lose your fuel.

Our two field teams here in upstate New York are starting the week in a couple of particularly nasty basements, complete with mud, bathroom fixtures and moldy insulation. What’s the betting they look as happy about it as the mud team below in a back yard in Leogane lat last year?!

Jubilation after another house is Leogane is cleared of mud and sludge.


About Jess UK

Fell in love with the crazy, inspiring, all-or-nothing world of disaster response and the wonderfully ridiculous, hard-working people who are drawn to it. Currently working in the Philippines as part of the recovery efforts after Typhoon Washi/Sendong! Want to know more? Check out disasterchasers.wordpress.com.


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