BUSY: Ernie Pagotto from Lismore Automatic Car Wash was kept on his toes yesterday after Wednesday’s dust storms.
BUSY: Ernie Pagotto from Lismore Automatic Car Wash was kept on his toes yesterday after Wednesday’s dust storms. Jacklyn Wagner

Dust storm helps business

IT'S an ill wind that blows no one any good, and while Wednesday's dust storm brought inconvenience to most people, it meant brisk business for some.

Carwashes on the North Coast were flat out yesterday as drivers got rid of the fine grit covering their vehicles. In Lismore, the scrub-up was a priority as punters made sure their cars were in schmick nick for Cup day.

“I haven't stopped all morning,” said Ernie Pagotto, who works at Lismore Automatic Car Wash. “Every time I look up there's another one coming in.”

One local getting his vehicle cleaned was macca farmer Peter Crawford, of Alstonville. He hasn't seen a storm like Wednesday's since 1960, when he lived at Moree.

“And I've never seen Ernie so busy,” he said.

Mr Pagotto, 47, has been working at the carwash for 19 years, co-owner Olive McKain said, and all the customers love him

Mr Crawford thought it was important to have a proper wash because it helped blow the dust out of all the crevices.

“And I think dust can be worse for a vehicle than the rain,” he said.

But Nick Barrett, owner of Ballina European Automotive repairs, said modern cars were well protected.

Meanwhile, the state's ambos were kept busy by the storm, which blew thousands of tonnes of fine red grit across the region.

NSW paramedics attended 469 cases of people suffering breathing problems.

Five people in the Lismore area called the service on Wednesday, compared with one the previous day.

Police reported no unusual problems caused by the dust.

But air quality is tipped to remain poor for the rest of the week. Sports Medicine Australia has warned people in affected areas to use caution.

Spokesman Dr Roger Parrish advised those who wanted to exercise to do so indoors.



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