It's better to have happened now. The pier from my hometown (Jacksonville Beach, FL) had a similar fate in 1999, when hurricane Floyd destroyed the old wooden pier. A new concrete one was constructed and as the sand formations around the pier columns collected the wave breaks a lot better. Look at it this way, if a new pier is built, it at least helps out the local construction business (at least he concrete guys).
Definitely gotta be careful in the water there so's we don't hit any submerged debris. The old pier was definitely an integral part of our annual Thanksgiving trip to the Banks. Lots of fun sessions there. I particularly liked the sinkers plunking down all around me as I tried to sneak in closer to the pier.
Curious to see how a new pier (if and when built) will affect the break.