GREEN COVE SPRINGS | It has weathered many a storm over 88 years — battered to splinters only to be rebuilt with new timber, concrete and steel — but the historic Shands Fishing Pier could not survive the devastation of the glancing blow Hurricane Matthew inflicted on Northeast Florida.

The pier stretching into the St. Johns River just south of Green Cove Springs has served as a crucial linchpin for putting food — shrimp, crab, redfish, catfish and mullet — on the table for more than a few hungry families in Clay County and neighboring communities.

The river’s bounty now is out of reach from the iconic local landmark where families have cast their fishing lines for generations. Hurricane Matthew demolished the pier — stripping the structure of its deck, railing and timbers to leave a gaping hole from the bank out almost to the end in the river.

“I’ve seen a bunch of families come out here that don’t have a bunch to eat, and they throw out that shrimp net and at least they’ve got themselves a meal,” Bruce Hendricks, 49, a Green Cove Springs native, said of the pier where he grew up fishing with his dad.

Uncertainty whether Clay County will rebuild it fuels concern among many residents including Hendricks that the hurricane delivered a death blow Oct. 7 to the pier that served as a family-friendly gathering place as well as a favorite fishing spot.

“I can remember Dad bringing me out here … ,” said Hendricks, who was just a toddler when his late father, Leon, started taking him to the pier.

Hendricks and his wife, Shirley, have carried on that family tradition with their son, Joshua, who soon will be 8 years old. It was one of the first places they took the

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