Two More Bodies Recovered in Aftermath of Hurricane Ian

Posted originally on the CTh on January 14, 2023 | Sundance

Their names will not make national headlines, and generally everyone has moved on, but to their families and friends Ilonka Knes and James Hurst mattered.  As CTH readers may remember, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian we shared that many missing people would be found in the months after the storm, and unfortunately many more will likely never be found.

The body of Mrs Ilonka Knes (82) was found in the mangroves and back bay salt marsh near Fort Myers Beach and has been positively identified. The body of her husband Robert was found in the days immediately following Hurricane Ian.

Additionally, the sailboat “Good Girl” was found submerged with human remains believed to be the body of James ‘Denny’ Hurst (73).

Mrs. Knes and Mr Hurst bring the total number of Hurricane Ian victims in Lee County, Florida, to seventy-five.  Mr. Hurst was the final “official” missing person on the local list; however, there are many more yet unaccounted that were not from this immediate area.   The physical devastation is widespread, but the emotional toll on the families and friends of the missing has been beyond imagining.  Tonight, two more families have answers.

(FLORIDA) – During Thursday’s news conference, Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno released new information regarding the area’s recovery.

“Most of us have gotten back to a sense of the new normal. For some, still missing their loved ones, every day since the storm has been difficult,” said Marceno.

The sheriff said his agency originally attempted a well-being check at what was left at the home of Ilonka and Robert Knes in the aftermath of the storm.

The body of Robert Knes was found shortly after Ian struck, but there were no signs of his wife during the days and weeks following the disaster.

Marceno said it wasn’t until mid-January that a debris removal crew found remains in a dense patch of mangroves, that later tested positive, through the use of dental records, to be that of Ilonka. (more)

The power and duration of Hurricane Ian killed more people than Hurricane Andrew and the storm that hit Southwest Florida last September is now recorded as the deadliest storm in the past 87 years.

If you live anywhere along the coastline of the United States, inland to about 50 miles, please remember to always take these storms seriously.

After this storm, and having been through four previous direct impacts, including Homestead AFB (Andrew), I would say this….  If there is even a remote chance you would ever encounter this type of a hurricane event, EVACUATE.  Do not try and hunker down if there is a looming possibility of having to rely on a structure to withstand 150+ mph wind for a full day.  Just leave.  With all of my preparations in place, and all of the knowledge I possess in storm survival, I would never attempt it again.

It is more than three months since Hurricane Ian hit Southwest Florida and beyond the chaos and debris that still remains visible almost everywhere, they are still recovering bodies.  Please take hurricane preparations seriously.

Lessons from Ian – Part One

Lessons from Ian – Part Two

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