The remains of a Florida woman who had been missing since her home was destroyed by Hurricane Ian in September were found this week, raising the toll from the state’s deadliest storm in nearly 90 years to 146.
The remains of the woman, Ilonka Knes, 82, of Fort Myers Beach, Fla., were found on Tuesday by a debris removal company in an area dense with mangroves and impassable by boat, less than two-tenths of a mile from her home, Sheriff Carmine Marceno of Lee County said in a news conference on Thursday. The sheriff’s office and medical examiner’s office identified the remains using dental records.
“I hope this discovery can bring the family some closure,” Sheriff Marceno said, adding that one other person in Lee County is still missing after Hurricane Ian.
Ian, Florida’s deadliest hurricane since 1935, made landfall along the state’s southwest coast on Sept. 28 as a Category 4 storm, causing widespread flooding and pummeling beachfront towns with winds of more than 150 miles per hour.
Lee County, which is home to Fort Myers Beach and experienced some of the most severe devastation from the hurricane, waited a day longer than several neighboring counties to order its most vulnerable residents to evacuate, a decision that county officials said was based on predictions that the hurricane would head farther north.
Official tallies of deaths from Ian in Florida and North Carolina show that older people died in disproportionate numbers. Evacuating can be more difficult for older adults, who may rely on medical equipment or who may not be able to drive to safety.
The authorities said Ms. Knes most likely drowned. Her husband was also killed in the storm, and their home was destroyed, Sheriff Marceno said.