After Ian damage, Flagler Beach may reopen wooden pier before it's demolished next year

Flagler Beach may reopen what’s left of its iconic wooden pier after Tropical Storm Ian tore a piece from the structure. But the city still plans to demolish the pier next year to make way for a new concrete replacement.

Ian ripped off the end of the pier last week, and a video showed the wooden piece floating south along the stormy sea.

Although the pier will be demolished next year, City Manager William Whitson said Monday he will reopen it if possible before then.

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“If I can, I will, because I get it. I want it open,” Whitson said. “It’s an economic driver. It's also part of what makes Flagler Beach special.”

Whitson said he did not know yet how many feet were lost.

Ian battered other piers in the area. The Daytona Beach pier is closed indefinitely, wrote city spokeswoman Susan Cerbone in an email on Monday. She wrote that a damage assessment is underway. But Ian damaged at least three pilings on the Daytona Beach pier and several deck boards must be replaced before it can reopen, Cerbone wrote.

Ian gnawed off more than 200 feet of the Sunglow Pier in Daytona Beach Shores, which will also be closed until repairs are made. The Sunglow Pier was 1,200 feet when it opened in 1960. But several storms have taken pieces since then. The most recent before Ian was Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

Hurricane Matthew also knocked off a 160-foot section of the Flagler Beach pier. It cost the city $917,917 to repair the pier, which was closed for more than eight months. The following year Irma damaged the pier.

And now Ian has taken his cut.

Flagler Beach Commission Chairman Ken Bryan said in a phone interview that the pier is a big draw.

“It’s a lifeblood, if you will, of Flagler Beach,” Bryan said. "Lots of people went fishing on the pier every day and it was popular with tourists who walked out on the pier," he said.

But Bryan said people need to steer clear of the area for now.

Barriers are in place to keep people from going on the pier, but before those were installed, Bryan and Commissioner James Sherman kept people out.

“Another commissioner and myself kind of stood guard out there and we ended up putting some barricades in front of the A-frame,” Bryan said.

And Bryan said the city is considering installing barriers on some dune walkovers that are no longer safe. He said the city had placed yellow tape along the walkovers, but people were ripping the tape off. He said another consideration was placing no trespassing signs so people would know it was illegal to go on the walkovers.

Another problem Ian left behind is a large hole in the southbound lane of A1A south of South 14th Street. The Department of Transportation is checking on that situation. Traffic has been rerouted until the road is repaired.

A large hole in the southbound lane of A1A in Flagler Beach closed parts of the road south of State Road 100 Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, following Tropical Storm Ian.
A large hole in the southbound lane of A1A in Flagler Beach closed parts of the road south of State Road 100 Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, following Tropical Storm Ian.

A-frame will remain

Bryan said the A-frame, which houses the Funky Pelican restaurant, a bait shop and restrooms at the pier's entrance, will not be replaced. The A-frame also has the words "Flagler Beach" large enough to read at a distance.

He said the new pier will be an all-concrete structure. People would walk on wooden “blow-out panels,” which are designed to separate from the pier if waves become too rough, such as in a hurricane. That would relieve the stress on the pilings, Bryan said.

Whitson said that the estimated cost of the new pier is between $15 million and $20 million.

He said that under the rules for Hurricane Matthew, the federal government would pay 75% and the city would match 25%. But he said he the city could also get some federal money due to Ian, although he does not know what the match would be for Ian.

Whitson said that before Ian hit, the plan was to save 100 feet of the existing wooden pier. So the first 100 feet would be the existing wooden pier and then the concrete pier would fill the remaining 700 feet. He said that was “to save as much of the historic structure as possible.”

However, Whitson said the engineers need to weigh in on that plan in light of the damage from Ian.

Whitson said that the city does have the pier insured for 50% of its value.

Whitson urged people who go to the beach to be careful, saying he doesn’t want someone to step on a nail or suffer some other injury. The battered chunk of the wooden pier that floated away is still out there. The walkovers that were damaged by Ian also can pose a hazard.

“It’s just a little bit frustrating for the city right now because people want to just pretend there was no storm. I guess it was 72 hours ago, so what storm, and they want to venture down to the beach,” Whitson said. “And while I get that. I think it’s wonderful. The weather is great. There are still hazards on the beach, in the water, we don’t know about. So, if they go down there, I want it to be made quite clear, you go down at your own risk.”

This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Flagler Beach pier could reopen before demolition after Ian