Hurricane Nicole unearthed skeletal remains of at least six people dating back more than 200 years on a Florida beach, local authorities said.
The chilling discovery came as the rare November hurricane — which was downgraded to a tropical storm after making landfall early Thursday — battered parts of Florida.
Six skulls and other bones were discovered on Chastain Beach on South Hutchinson Island following the storm, the Martin County Sheriff’s Office told NBC News.
Investigators said the bones, which were first spotted by beachgoers, belong to Indigenous people and came from a Native American burial ground located nearby.
“Our medical examiner’s office is saying that they believe the bones are in excess of 200 years of age,” Martin County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy John Budensiek told the outlet.
It’s not the first time human remains have washed up in the area after a storm. Bones belonging to Native Americans were unheartened by Hurricane Dorian in 2019 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
The latest remains discovered will be transferred from the Medical Examiner’s Office to the Bureau Archeological Research Department of State. Budensiek said he’s also been in touch with the Seminole Nation of Florida.
Investigators will only recover the remains revealed by Hurricane Nicole and will not dig any further in an effort to preserve history, he added.
The bones were uncovered by the strong winds Nicole brought to the area.
The storm touched down in the Sunshine State just south of Vero Beach around 3 a.m. with sustained winds of about 75 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Hurricane Nicole slammed Florida’s east coast just six weeks after Hurricane Ian devastated the area. Along with intense winds, it brought dangerous storm surge, powerful waves, extensive flooding and heavy rainfall to areas still recovering from Ian.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for 45 of Florida’s 67 counties, with “16,000 linemen staged, 600 guardsmen activated, and 7 Urban Search and Rescue teams on standby to deploy.”
Ahead of the storm, officials shut down airports and theme parks and ordered extensive evacuations.
Videos posted to social media in Nicole’s aftermath showed a stretch of beachfront homes in Daytona Beach Shores torn apart due to severe erosion caused by the storm’s strength.
Volusia County officials said 49 buildings have been deemed unsafe, according to Fox News reporter Caroline Elliott.
“If you go anywhere near the beach, you are putting your life in danger,” Beach Safety Deputy Director Tammy Malphurs warned Floridians.