NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) - People in the northeast aren't the only ones still struggling with the mess left by Hurricane Sandy.
Heavy rains and high tides caused some sewage treatment plants to overflow, including a large spill in Suffolk. Those spills have lead to a ban on shellfishing in local waterways.
For waterman George Pauls, harvesting oysters isn't just a job, it's a way of life. He's been working the James River since he was 12.
"When I came along, it was the thing to do," Pauls told WAVY.com. "You could make a decent living at it and every year it gets harder."
This year, flooding from Hurricane Sandy resulted in a number of sewage treatment plants overflowing into parts of the James River, the Lynnhaven River, the Nansemond River and the Black River.
"That sewage going into shellfish areas is a risk and so we had to close those areas for harvest," Keith Skiles with the Division of Shellfish Sanitation said.
The pollution isn't killing the shellfish, but the watermen are dying to get back to work.
"Going on three weeks now, we [haven't] made a dime," George Marshall told WAVY.com. "While we [were] spending money to keep things up, you know."
"It's adding up real quick," Timmy Lee Firth added. "I mean, with everything going on, especially with the way the season's been [no one has] been able to accumulate [any] money to set aside for something like this."
After the oil spill in the gulf, BP had to compensate watermen for their losses and the men who harvest oysters in the river think something similar should be done here.
"If it's a sewage pipe or a spill, there should be storm money or relief money to help the watermen that have been put out of work," Pails said.
Wednesday afternoon, the Health Department told 10 On Your Side tests on some oyster samples cleared the way to resume the harvest for the Black River, Poquoson River and a portion of the James River. Other areas will remain closed for about another week.
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