Hurricane Matthew destroyed most of the Surfside Beach Pier when it hit the area in October, 2016.
One of the town’s most popular tourist destinations – it housed Licks ice cream shop, Pier Outfitters (a bait & tackle shop), and the Surf Diner – you paid a nominal fee to stroll on the pier, chat with the fishermen and enjoy the views from 830 feet out into the Atlantic Ocean.
Despite the pier damage, the businesses have remained open.
This wasn’t the first time the pier was destroyed. Hurricane Hugo completely demolished the pier in 1989; it was rebuilt in 1993. It was also destroyed once prior to that.
While initially there was a lot of talk about rebuilding the pier, nothing much happened until March 2018 when FEMA approved $10 million to fund the construction of a new concrete pier with a wooden deck.
Unfortunately, most observers believe the rebuilding will come with a higher cost than the current estimate of $10.98 million. FEMA requires the pier to be roughly 10 feet higher than its original elevation. To accomplish this, the current buildings on the pier – which house the three businesses – must be torn down.
Many ideas have been offered about what will replace those structures. The most recent one supported by Surfside Beach Town Council members is one which will have three one-story buildings built with structural supports for second story usage in the future. It is hoped the three existing businesses return plus perhaps another restaurant, a game arcade or special event venue.
However, before any sort of construction can start, FEMA must conduct an environmental impact study. That study could take up to 18 months to complete. Once the study is complete and assuming nothing is found to further delay the rebuilding, the construction period easily could be another 2 years or more.
Whatever the timeframe, Surfside Beach Mayor Bob Childs assures us “The new concrete (pier) will withstand a lot of storms that a regular wood pier would not. I hope that concrete pier is up for a long, long time before anything happens.”
We all hope that!