SURF CITY, N.C. (WECT) - Surf City is celebrating a milestone in Hurricane Florence recovery as the town has officially re-opened all thirty-six beach accesses and a local park.
Surf City Parks and Recreation Director Chad Merritt says every beach access point was damaged and many were destroyed by sand and water from the hurricane.
“All of our visitors, all of our residents, I want to try to provide any sense of normalcy that you can for them. This is why we live here. We live here to be able to get to the beach. We want to provide those accesses to the beach,” Merritt said.
Some accesses were washed away completely, while others were only damaged on the ocean side, where many are designed with “break away” stairs that detach during major storms. Merritt estimates the cost of beach access repairs at roughly $150,000.
One block from the beach on Broadway Street, the Nelva R. Albury Park officially re-opened with new playground equipment Monday.
Merritt says storm surge breached the dunes near the park during Hurricane Florence and waves were crashing into the playground equipment. Equipment was found moved around and leaning in places it shouldn’t have been. Several feet of sand were found in the adjacent parking lot and on the playground.
“Our goal has been to make it look better than it was before the hurricane and that’s what we’ve done. We’ve been able to open up a playground that looks like a pirate ship,” he said.
Surf City paid for the new playground with a $100,000 grant from the Golden Leaf Foundation.
Merritt hopes Surf City residents and visitors will recognize the community-wide efforts that have been on-going for months to get things back to normal since last fall.
“Our biggest thing is trying to take something that was a very negative experience - the storm - and turning that into a positive experience. We want people to continue to come back to Surf City and our biggest thing is we don’t want people thinking that this thing knocked us down. It didn’t knock us down. It did delay a couple of months, but for our summer season we are open for business.”
The city is expanding its free summer concert series next week to feature local businesses.
On July 25, the second “Sip, Shop & Stroll” will be held at Soundside Park from 4-9 p.m. with live music starting at 7 p.m.
The city is inviting local businesses to set up tents to promote their business during the event.
Interested businesses can email firstname.lastname@example.org fore more information. The next event is on July 18, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Soundside Park.