SURFSIDE BEACH, (WMBF) – There is a push to rebuild both the Surfside Beach and Springmaid fishing piers after Hurricane Matthew.
A great deal of the Surfside Beach Pier was lost to Hurricane Matthew, more than half of it to be exact. It was a sight no one expected to see after the storm came and went.
"No, to tell you the truth, I didn't," Surfside Beach Mayor Bob Childs said. "It's one of those things you look at it - it's so, so solidly built - that you just don't expect the pier to go down. You expect certain amount of beach to wash away, but being as it's a heavy structure, it's hard to visualize something like that tearing apart like it did. I mean, it tore apart like it was made of little balsa wood. So it was really a surprise."
Childs certainly wasn't the only one feeling awestruck. Curtis Kremer, the co-owner of Pier Outfitters, had never seen anything like it.
"The strength of the storm was just unbelievable," Kremer said. "I've never lived through anything like that before. And I was shocked that we lost the better half of the pier. The half we need is gone."
The day after Matthew was when Childs could really see the extent of the damage. all he could think about was the very people Kremer helps every day - the fishermen.
"It was quite traumatic because, you know, the pier is the focal point of town," Childs said. "There was a lot of fishermen there. Every day they go there at the crack of down and stay all day. I knew that was going to be a pretty heavy hit for the fisherman. They enjoy that so much."
It was a loss not only for the fisherman, but for everyone.
"The people who have literally grown up from babies, every summer they'd come and spend time on this pier and they are heartbroken," Kremer said. "They can't hardly believe that their favorite spot is gone."
With a pier so loved, the push to bring it back is strong.
"Hardly a week goes by that somebody doesn't, you know, bring up, you know, where do we stand with the pier? How soon will the pier be done? Questions along that line. We miss it," Childs said.
For businesses on the pier, it's no different.
"Right now, it's almost like breathing. We kind of expect it as people walk through the door," Kremer said.
Right now, a series of three meetings are being held to make sure everyone has a say in the future of the pier. The second was held Monday morning, but beyond just getting another pier built is building one that will last.
"A lot of us have talked about the possibility of concrete pilings and a wood decking which would give the aesthetics of a wooden pier, but should we have another hurricane like that, you know, hopefully the worst we would lose is the wood decking and not the pilings, which I'm sure ends up to be the most expensive parts of the whole project," Childs explained.
Kremer indicated the community is united over just how important a pier is.
"I think they understand the economic impact that it has on the community and I think they are committed to rebuilding it, you know," he said. "And I think right now the council has a great opportunity to leave their legacy to this town. They could produce something that could go the next 50 to 100 years."
The initial bid for the project goes out April 13. From there, council will look at what each engineering firm comes back with, hopefully by the summer months, according to Childs.
As for the Springmaid Pier, it's owned by the Double Tree by Hilton. WMBF News obtained the following statement from a spokesperson regarding the pier's reconstruction:
"We have every intention of rebuilding the iconic Springmaid Pier. We recognize the attributes this structure offers to both visitors and residents alike. As soon as we have details of the new construction, we'll make sure to share them with the local community."