Parker Pier to Reopen

By: Mike Tolbert
By: Mike Tolbert

The orange barricades don't stop Billy Spikes from fishing on Earl Gilbert Pier, even though he knows it not exactly structurally sound.

“Usually 20 to 30 knots more you can really feel it swayin’, plus there's some bad boards and some missin’ too. Very nerve wrackin’. I can't swim, so that makes it worse,” he says.

After Ivan, Manuel Knight of FEMA examined the pier and boat ramp. He suggested divers take a look underneath. They found that Ivan had actually lifted the pier and damaged the supports.

The storm surge had also pulled out much the sand and dirt that sits under the concrete ramp, leaving basically a cave. Both structures are no longer safe.

Manuel Knight says, “If a large boat would of been docked up against it, the wave action could of hit it and could of shifted the pier and knocked a mother, grandmother, children off.”

But thanks to FEMA, this potentially dangerous situation won't last much longer. They have given parker the almost $160,000 needed to fix the ramp and pier.

Bids will go out early next week, and if all goes according to plan, Billy could be fishing on a solid pier by the end of May.

“It makes me feel great; we come down here quite often. That’s going to be nice. New dock, one he won't be afraid to fall off,” says Knight.


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