FLAGLER BEACH — Anglers were catching more rays from the sun than fish in the ocean Friday morning at the Flagler Beach pier, but they were just happy to be there.
Flagler Beach's iconic pier reopened Friday morning after inspectors found no significant damage as a result of Hurricane Dorian.
"They didn't find anything that would warrant closure," said City Manager Larry Newsom. "They did find some bolts that need to be tightened, but that is something we should be doing annually."
That was a big relief for resident Steve Williams, who said he is out on the pier "five or six days a week."
Williams said he wasn't getting much action "but at least the pier's standing." As far as the fishing goes, he said things should settle over the next three to four days "and then the fish will be hitting pretty good."
Like many residents, Williams was concerned about the intensity of Hurricane Dorian and worried about family and friends during the storm.
"It was hard. I prayed for everyone but I prayed for the pier, too, funny as that sounds," he said. "We love fishing out here. We feel blessed that we got spared."
Newsom said that feeling of relief is widespread in the beachside town, especially where the pier is concerned.
"When we couldn't open it right away after Matthew and Irma there were a lot of concerns," he said. "The pier is iconic to Flagler County, not just Flagler Beach and (reopening) shows we are getting back to business."
Ray Barshay, owner of the Funky Pelican restaurant at the pier, was eating breakfast with his son, Alex and said the pier is important to residents.
"It's part of the engine of the engine of the town," he said. "It brings people to the town and family and friends and visitors over."
Barshay said like many business owners in the area, closing down for the hurricane was a financial burden.
"It crunched a lot of business for everybody in town," he said. "We ended up closing longer than other kinds of businesses because we wanted to make sure our employees were all safe."
Flagler Beach Gift Shop owner Michelle Brown was also relieved that the pier reopened.
"It's a huge deal for the city and a huge relief for the residents and business owners here," she said.
Brown said while she has heard some complaints about making preparations for a storm that didn't cause much damage, she is thankful the city came out of it with little damage.
"Not having all that work after, the cleanup, is a blessing," she said. "We're all pretty much back to business."
Newsom said the city is bringing a diver out to check the end of the pier for scouring but characterized it as "a routine check."
Newsom said residents are eager to get back out on the pier.
"It opened at 6 this morning and it's starting to fill up," he said.
Newsom said it was important to get the pier reopened not only because it offers a sense of normalcy for residents but because of its popularity.
"You have a lot of retired people here and they like to spend their mornings and their afternoons on the pier fishing," he said.
Another concern for city officials and residents is the condition of State Road A1A. With repairs from damage caused by Hurricane Matthew still underway, there were fears Dorian would undo the progress made to date. But Newsom said that did not appear to be the case.
"I didn't see anything that compromised the roadway," he said.
Newsom said he, along with the county engineer and the city's police and fire chiefs, met with a representative from the Army Corps of Engineers to check out the dunes along the roadway.
"We went out and drove A1A from end to end," he said.
Newsom said he is not sure how the storm will affect the timetable for completion of the work, saying that was between the contractor and Florida Department of Transportation officials.
With Dorian behind us, Newsom said residents should continue to be prepared for more severe weather.
"We're not out of the woods yet," he said. "Hurricane season has a long way to go."
High surf from Hurricane Dorian crashes around the Flagler Beach Pier in Flagler Beach, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. [News-Journal file/Nigel Cook]
Steve Williams, left, and Sam Hill got back to their normal routine Friday with the reopening of the Flagler Beach pier after inspectors determined there was no significant damage to the structure. [News-Journal/Aaron London]
Anglers try their luck off the end of the Flagler Beach pier Friday morning after the iconic landmark reopened following Hurricane Dorian. [News-Journal/Aaron London]
Ray Barshay, right, owner of the Funky Pelican restaurant in Flagler Beach, and his son, Alex, enjoy breakfast Friday morning as life returns to normal in the beachside town. [News-Journal/Aaron London]
Michelle Brown, owner of the Flagler Beach Gift Shop, was among many business owners breathing a sign of relief after Hurricane Dorian left the city unscathed. [News-Journal/Aaron London]
The project area along State Road A1A south of the pier remained empty Friday morning as Florida Department of Transportation officials check for dmage from Hurricane Dorian. [News-Journal/Aaron London]
Construction materials await the return of work crews on State Road A1A in Flagler Beach as state inspectors check on conditions along the scenic highway. [News-Journal/Aaron London]