‘She touched a lot of souls’; People gather for balloon tribute for local woman killed in Florida

DAYTON — We have learned a woman from the Miami Valley is among the victims of Hurricane Ian.

Nishelle Harris-Miles died when the hurricane made its way through Fort Myers last week, according to family.

NewsCenter 7 talked with her in 2019 when her brother was killed in a shooting in Dayton.

Now her family is grieving her loss.

>>RELATED: Hurricane Ian: Ohio Task Force 1 move, ‘deep into the hardest hit areas,’

Nishelle Harris-Miles, or Nene as her family and friends called her, turned 40-years old on September 23 and traveled to Fort Myers, Florida the week after her birthday to celebrate with her sister, cousin and friend.

“We talked to them Tuesday and we were actually on the phone with them,” Adoria Lloyd, Nishelle’s cousin, told NewsCenter 7′s Brandon Lewis. “We were getting them in good spirits and we were telling them to be safe and all that. And then Wednesday, we just didn’t hear back from them.”

Wednesday is when Hurricane Ian made landfall in Southwest Florida, Fort Myers was one of the hardest hit areas.

“Went for peace and came back broken, lost, confused, guilty,” LaQuitta Heard, Nishelle’s friend said.

LaQuitta Heard was on the trip with them, the four women were in an Airbnb when the hurricane move through.

“I personally will never be the same again,” she said.

Nene’s family said the roof on their Airbnb collapsed and killed her.

“I had to watch her slowly die while we were being emerged in 18 feet of water with winds at a speed of 167 mph” Heard said.

>>Photos: Floridians grapple with Hurricane Ian’s destruction

Lewis said the three women who survived were stuck in their flooded Airbnb for more than 12 hours until rescuers got them.

They made it back to Dayton Saturday devastated over what they went through.

“Words can’t explain it,” Heard said.

Dozens of people showed their support for them and Nene on Sunday by releasing balloons outside Nene’s home in Dayton.

Her family and friends are heartbroken over her loss.

“Everybody just came together to show their love,” Lloyd told Lewis. “Definitely show their love.”

They described her as the life of the party and someone who enjoyed being around her loved ones.

“She was a loving type of person, she passed love wherever she went,” Will Crusoe said. “Once again, you see the support that she has. She touched a lot of souls.”

As the family tries to make sense of what happened, they are working to bring her body back to Dayton so they can lay her to rest.

“Nene, we love you. We’re going to forever miss you,” said Lloyd. “Forever care for you, forever keep your name alive.”

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