Hurricane Nicole Possibly Unearths Native American Burial Site on Florida Beach

by Sean Griffin
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Hurricane Nicole most likely unearthed a Native American burial site dating back hundreds of years on a Florida beach, authorities said. Six skulls and other smaller bones turned up on Chastain Beach on South Hutchinson Island. Martin County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy John Budensiek announced the news.

Budensiek said beachgoers found the remains.

“Our medical examiner’s office is saying that they believe the bones are in excess of 200 years of age,” he said. He added that investigators believe they found the remains of Indigenous people.

The bones of Native Americans were discovered in the area after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. It happened again during Hurricane Dorian in 2019.

“We do believe based on other findings over the years along that area that it’s likely to be an old Indian burial site,” he said. “When we are dealing with remains like this, we try to preserve history. We are not exploring and digging any further into the area where the remains were found. We only recovered what’s been exposed by the water.”

Budensiek said he has been in touch with the Seminole Nation of Florida about the discovery. If the site is a Native American burial site, it will be federally protected. Criminal charges will be pursued against anyone who tries to disturb the area, Budensiek said.

However, no one with the county medical examiner’s office could immediately be reached for comment Thursday afternoon. Hurricane Nicole made landfall on Florida’s Atlantic Coast early Thursday. It first touched down in Florida near where the remains were found.

The storm landed just south of Vero Beach around 3 a.m. ET on the east coast of the Florida Peninsula on North Hutchinson Island. It landed with sustained winds estimated at 75 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.

Hurricane Nicole Leaves Over 200,000 Without Power in Florida

More than 210,000 homes and businesses in Florida were without power early Thursday after Tropical Storm Nicole slammed into the state’s east coast. Thankfully, workers have now restored power to about half of the nearly 400,000 residents who lost electricity when the storm hit Wednesday night.

According to the National Weather Service, the hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm soon after it made landfall on Florida’s east coast.

“Nicole continues to impact the state, but our restoration is well underway,” said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL at the time. “During the height of the storm in the southern part of Florida, when crews were unable to travel safely, our smart grid technology was working to restore power remotely. Now, in the areas where winds are below 35 mph, our teams are out in full force, conducting critical damage assessments and restoring power.”

The company has dedicated about 13,000 men and women to the power restoration effort. Assistance reportedly came in from 16 other states. In addition, several local shelters are open in response to the storm.

However, more than 322,000 homes and businesses across Florida remained without power as of 9:14 a.m. ET.

However, Brevard County, which includes Melbourne, had the highest proportion of utility customers. Outages numbered at 23%. Indian River County, which includes Vero Beach, contained the next highest, at 16%.