Hurricane Ian has officially strengthened rapidly

The Florida National Guard has activated 5,000 Florida troops and 2,000 additional troops from Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina in preparation for Hurricane Ian, Governor Ron DeSantis announced Monday during a news conference in Washington. State Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee.

7,000 guards is an increase from the 2,500 activated and announced by DeSantis on Sunday.

As of Monday, the storm was located about 375 miles south of Key West and was 500 miles wide. It is moving northwest toward the Gulf of Mexico at about 14 mph with maximum sustained winds of up to 80 mph, DeSantis said.

Jim Eifert, head of Florida’s National Guard, said it is “fully engaged with every available resource” and has also reached out to Kentucky and Louisiana to provide additional resources.

DeSantis warned of the impact Hurricane Ian is expected to cause on Florida’s Gulf Coast, including heavy rain, strong winds, flash floods and high tides, telling Gulf Coast residents they should feel the impact. hurricane activity up to 36 hours before making landfall.

“You will see storm surge in places like southwest Florida even though the storm is forecast 100-150 miles off the coast from southwest Florida,” the governor said.

In addition to the 7,000 troops activated by the National Guard, five FEMA Urban Search and Rescue teams have also been activated and the Fish and Wildlife Commission has been mobilized, DeSantis said. further learned that 210 medical professionals have been assigned to Hillsborough County special need shelters and 300 ambulances have been assigned to assist with special needs evacuations in the Tampa Bay area .

Governor DeSantis is scheduled to hold another news conference in Largo, Florida, this afternoon at 2 p.m. ET.

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