Live updates: Hurricane Ian on path to make landfall in Florida

(Florida Governor’s Office)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis gave a briefing ahead of Hurricane Ian’s expected landfall later Wednesday, warning residents in several western counties that it is “no longer possible to safely evacuate.”

“This is a major, major storm. It’s something that we knew was going to be significant. The strengthening of this over the last night has been really, really significant,” DeSantis said.

“[It] potentially … could make landfall as a Category 5 but clearly this is a very powerful, major hurricane that’s going to have major impacts both on impact in southwest Florida, but then as it continues to work through the state, it is going to have major, major impacts in terms of wind, in terms of rain, in terms of flooding. So this is going to be a nasty, nasty day, two days. Probably, we think now, it will be exiting the peninsula sometime on Thursday,” he said.

DeSantis warned the highest risk is from Collier County up to Sarasota County, with landfall expected in Charlotte County.

“If you are in any of those counties, it’s no longer possible to safely evacuate. It’s time to hunker down and prepare for this storm. This is a powerful storm that should be treated like you would treat” a tornado approaching your home, DeSantis said.

At least 40,000 power outages have been reported, DeSantis said. “Outside of southwest Florida, crews are responding to those power outages,” he said.

According to the governor,​ “there are over 30,000 linemen staged and ready for power restoration efforts across the state of Florida.”

He warned residents to heed warnings from local officials and not to go outside until the storm has passed.

“Even if it seems calm, wait to make sure that the storm has actually passed. Once the storm has passed and it’s safe to go outside, I urge you to be cautious. Avoid downed power lines. Avoid standing water. Stay clear of damaged trees. If you are using a generator for power, make sure that it is being operated outside your home. Do not operate that indoors. And then don’t drive in flooded streets,” he said.

DeSantis also said that there are 5,000 Florida National Guard members activated, as well as 2,000 from neighboring states.

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