‘2019 is the biggest disappointment,’ Surfside Beach Pier reopening delayed

More than 50 feet of the Surfside Beach Pier was destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.

SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – The Town of Surfside Beach says the rebuilding of its pier is now delayed until 2019.

Surfside Beach Mayor Bob Childs offered a press release with details about the delay to News13’s Abbey O’Brien Tuesday afternoon.

The release states that Surfside Beach officials continue to work with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD), and the town’s own recovery team, “in an effort to restore the Surfside Beach Fishing Pier.”

“I guess 2019 is the biggest disappointment,” said Childs. “You can imagine dealing with government agencies, all the red tape, and if you miss crossing one ‘T’ then you can be out of luck. So we’ve got to be very cautious with what we’re doing.”

“We are moving as quickly as we can, but this is a complicated project, and since FEMA is involved it is critical that we do everything exactly as they require,” Surfside Beach Town Administrator Micki Fellner says within the release. “Unfortunately, this means our hope of having it reopened by May of 2018 will likely not come to fruition.”

The release says that town officials are working with Collins Engineers and Hagerty Consulting to get FEMA an “accurate and comprehensive damage assessment” in order to get all FEMA funding available for the pier repairs.

The engineering firm will identify ways to reconstruct the pier to make it “stronger and more resilient than before Hurricane Matthew.” Mayor Childs says engineers should have conceptual drawings of the new pier within the next 10 weeks, allowing the town to put a dollar amount on what it will cost to rebuild the pier, something officials have not been able to do to this point.

Surfside Beach officials say the project could take a year longer than originally expected.

“In order to comply with all federal, state, and local requirements, the rough timeline for the project could possibly extend into the spring or summer of 2019, depending on the final scope of work approved by FEMA and authorized by the town council,” predicts Fellner.

A major revenue source for the pier comes from people who pay to fish and rent fishing rods. This will be the first summer where fishing is not allowed.

“We get phone calls everyday, you know, how much is it to fish,” said Chris Brahin, an employee at Surfside Outfitters. The store is located right off the pier and they cannot rent out any rods this year.

“We’re just starting out our season,” said Brahin. “But we have had a lot of people wanting to rent rods so far so yeah that does hurt.”

Once the damage assessment is complete, a meeting will he held with Surfside Beach Town Council members and the community to talk about the reconstruction process. That meeting is expected to take place in the next eight to 10 weeks, depending on FEMA timeliness, the release says.