In all, the report states, Irma caused “44 direct deaths as a result of its strong winds, heavy rains, and high surf across the Caribbean Islands and the southeastern United States.”
On Sept. 12, a family found a body floating in the water off Cortez while they were on their boat and called the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office just before 11 a.m. to the 3800 block of Catalina Drive.
Authorities arrived and saw the man’s body in the canal behind nearby homes, pronouncing him dead at the scene. The body was removed from the water and identified as 89-year-old Thomas Evans Jr. Officials notified Evans’ wife of his death and returned items found on his person to her, according to a report from the sheriff’s office.
Officials spoke to the property manager, who said he knew Evans and had been to his home earlier when a caretaker could not enter the home after hearing Evans’ wife calling out for her husband.
The property manager also told investigators that Evans was “always working on his boat,” which was docked in the canal behind Evans’ home, according to the sheriff’s office. The boat, he noted, was turned around from its normal position, and he believed Evans may have been re-securing his boat after the storm. Irma passed through the area overnight Sept. 10.
The District 12 Medical Examiner’s Office found the death was an accidental drowning while securing the boat after the hurricane, according to the sheriff’s office report.
The NHC’s report states there were three other deaths in Florida directly caused by the hurricane, occurring in Duval and Broward counties. There were also 80 indirect deaths in Florida due to the storm, the report noted. Mainly to blame were falls during storm preparations, crashes, chainsaw accidents, electrocutions and carbon monoxide poisoning from generators.
The majority of the casualties, according to the NHC, were in the Caribbean Islands, where Irma’s winds were the strongest. Eleven direct deaths were reported in Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy, nine in Cuba, four in Saint Maarten, four in the British Virgin Islands, three in the U.S. Virgin Islands, three in Barbuda, one in Barbados, one in Haiti, and one in Anguilla.
In the report, meteorologists stated the massive hurricane was one of the strongest and costliest hurricanes on record in the Atlantic basin.