Remains of woman missing after Hurricane Jan found on Fort Myers beach, death toll rises

Remains of Florida woman missing Hurricane Jan The sheriff said Thursday that her home was broken into in September.

Earlier this week, workers sorting through debris on a battered Fort Myers beach discovered the remains of 82-year-old Ilonka Knes in a thicket of mangroves, Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marcena said said at a press conference. Marcheno said “these areas are impassable by boat and not visible from the air.”

Kness’ dental chart has been positively identified and authorities say she drowned. The remains of her husband, 81-year-old Robert Kness, were found shortly after the storm.

“She was one of two people still missing from Hurricane Ian,” Marcheno said. “I hope this discovery can bring some closure to the family.”

Another person missing in Lee County after the hurricane made landfall on Sept. 28 is 72-year-old James Hurst, the sheriff said. Hearst told the family he would ride out the storm on his sailboat off Fort Myers Beach, but was never heard from again.

After the storm, deputies responded to 4,866 welfare checks, CBS affiliate WINK-TV reported. The sheriff’s office was initially looking for three missing persons, but now only Hurst remains missing.

Prior to the discovery of Kness’s remains, the Florida Medical Examiner’s Office on Tuesday reported 145 confirmed deaths in the state as a result of Hurricane Jan. This would add to the total.

Five people died in North Carolina, one in Virginia and three in Cuba, according to authorities.

Along with property damage that rendered homes habitable and displaced thousands of inhabitantsthat people across the state are struggling with environmental hazards which can pose a serious threat to health.

In Lee County, officials are talking about storm surge and subsequent flooding led to a surge in potentially fatal infections caused by Vibrio vulnificus, a type of bacteria found in warm brackish water that usually comes into contact with humans through raw or undercooked seafood. It can also enter the body through cuts and other open wounds and cause serious skin infections life-threateningaccording to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Vibrio vulnificus is informally described as a “flesh-eating” bacterium because the primary infection skin can quickly progress to necrotizing fasciitis, a rare disease that causes tissue breakdown and sometimes requires amputation to prevent further spread.

Emily Mae Chahor contributed to this report.

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