OCEAN CITY — Eight months ago, the effects of Hurricane Sandy blasted away about 100 feet of the Ocean City Fishing Pier, leaving behind a splintered and stark reminder of the storm’s might.
Pier franchise holder Charles “Buddy” Jenkins vowed to rebuild by Memorial Day. Jenkins fulfilled his promise.
On Friday, a reborn pier was once again open to the public.
At the pier entrance off Wicomico Street downtown, new planks mingle with the old ones, contrasting as sharply as piano keys. Freshly hammered nails glimmer alongside their rusty counterparts. Beyond the threshold of where the old pier had been ripped away, a path of new wood is a revelation to anyone once familiar with the weathered old decking.
What’s old is new again, right down to the positions of gutting tables and light posts — which Jenkins was required to do anyway under the terms of his franchise agreement with Ocean City. The contract says the pier, if damaged, must be restored to at least its former size of 489 feet long and 20 feet wide.
Jenkins, owner of the Jolly Roger amusement park at the pier and at 30th Street, said the winter weather was among the most severe he’d seen in recent years.
“The biggest thing is, you fight the elements — the tide is too high, the tide is too low, winds are in the wrong direction,” he said.
They fought the weather, and worked through weekends to meet a self-imposed Memorial Day deadline. Getting materials for the project also proved a challenge, Jenkins added, as communities north of Ocean City also took to rebuilding their seaside communities.
Harry How of MAD Engineering was hired as the engineer for the rebuild. He said the new pier was purposefully built exactly like the one that washed into the sea, with all the reconstruction work done by Jenkins’ employees.
“We made a few changes required by the new codes, but other than that, it’s the same pier it’s always been,” he said.
Like a skyscraper in the wind, the pier was built to sway a little, otherwise it would crack, How said. As he spoke, the pier swayed underfoot, a gentle reminder of just how much power was generated by the massive waves and churning seas that yanked away pilings thick as loblolly pines.
That “very angry ocean” caused half the pier to collapse, said Mayor Rick Meehan.
“The most-asked question I got throughout that storm was, what’s happening with the Ocean City Fishing Pier? Are you going to rebuilt that?” he said.
At a small ceremony early Friday, Meehan and Jenkins marked the occasion with rod and reel. Each cast a line into the undulating ocean, a symbolic gesture that also marks the unofficial start of Ocean City’s tourist season.
“When you stand out here, and you look at Ocean City from only this vista — it’s the only one available — it makes you proud,” said Jenkins, holding his hand out to the northern expanse of the Ocean City skyline.
There’s been a fishing pier in Ocean City since 1907.
Courtesy of http://www.delmarvanow.com/