OAK ISLAND, NC (WECT) - The Oak Island Pier reopened Wednesday morning after closing two years ago because of hurricane damage.
Hundreds of residents gathered for the ribbon cutting on the pier at 10 a.m. Many took pictures and cheered as town leaders spoke and cut the ribbon. Neighbors said the pier is a staple of the town, and its reopening shows Oak Island’s resilience.
“It’s just a reminder of what happened [the hurricanes] and that was hard for us and sad at the same time. This is a bright picture at the end of all of that, so, yes, it is wonderful to have that all back,” Oak Island resident Suzy Gabbert said.
The new pier has gray grate flooring throughout that engineers said is stronger than the boards. The grate will allow waves to pass through without destroying the pier like a wave did during Hurricane Matthew.
The pier was deemed unsafe back in March 2017. The T portion of the pier was damaged during Hurricane Matthew. The restaurant and store portions of the pier have remained opened.
The Golden Leaf Foundation gave the town a $1.5 million grant to help pay for the pier. The town’s insurance, FEMA reimbursements and money from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality helped pay for it as well. The pier is the tallest in North Carolina, standing 27 feet above the water.
“It has been a journey. It has been a roller coaster and at times it has been stressful and we all knew the finished product would be what you see today, so it was fun to see it develop," Mayor Cin Brochure said.
A bait shop and pier house, owned by the town, will open in the next few weeks attached to the pier. A restaurant will open soon too, connected to the pier.
Crews are still finishing up the final touches, so fishing isn’t allowed on the pier until July 2. The town will host a fireworks display off the pier on July first to celebrate the town’s twentieth anniversary. The pier will be open from nine a.m. to nine p.m.