Locals chipping in to rebuild iconic pier decimated by Florence

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) – For generations, fishermen have trekked to southern New Hanover County with their fishing coolers, tackle boxes, and rod and reels in tow to spend leisure time at the Carolina Beach Fishing Pier.

But these avid anglers have had to scout out another fishing spot since Hurricane Florence roared ashore decimating the iconic wooden structure.

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About one-third of the pier was damaged when the storm came ashore in September and replacing it isn’t cheap.

It will cost an estimated $100,000 to replace the structure which was not insured.

“We had insurance on the building but not on the pier itself,” said Donna Johnston whose family owns the pier. “Its just not reasonable to insure something like that.”

Johnston says her father bought the pier for her mother as a gift because she loved to fish. The Johnstons have owned it for 40 years and had to rebuild the pier after [Hurricane] Fran.

“Its a landmark and you can’t just go out and build a pier, so if we lose this pier, Carolina Beach won’t have a pier,” Johnston said.

“In the summer, you have your summer people, families, year after year, you meet these kids and they grow up and its like they become family,” she said. “A pier is like a dinosaur.”

When the summer season ends, the pier continues to attract fishermen. In the fall, when the “spot fish” arrive, anglers flock to the pier with their rod and reel.

“The Lumbee Indians they come and fish, and they live off the spots in the winter time,” Johnston said.

But to keep these traditions at the pier alive, it will require money and lots of it.

Trevor Day is the CEO of Buzz’s Roost Restaurant and he has one location at Carolina Beach. When he learned about damage to the pier and how much it would cost to replace, he wanted to do something.

“We were very fortunate during the storm, we’re beachfront and we didn’t get much damage, and unfortunately a lot of others did and we felt as a new business to the beach we could do our part to help,” he said.

Johnston says she is about to order some wood pylons to start the rebuilding process, but more funds will be needed before anglers can return to the pier.

A golf tournament benefiting the Carolina Beach Fishing Pier restoration efforts will be held Monday, Nov. 19, at the Wilmington Municipal Golf Course at 311 Donald Ross Drive, Wilmington. The fee is $75 per player or $300 for a foursome. Registration begins at 9 a.m. with a shotgun start at 10:30 a.m.

The event will also feature giveaways of items donated by Carolina Beach merchants and a big party High Tide Lounge with food and drinks at 3 p.m.