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The National Hurricane Center forecast shows the storm's winds increasing faster than for any previous tropical storm forecast

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

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

As of Monday, the storm is located approximately 375 miles south of Key West and has a diameter of 500 miles wide. It’s moving northwest towards the Gulf of Mexico at about 14 mph with maximum sustained winds of up to 80 mph, DeSantis said.

Jim Eifert, the head of Florida’s National Guard, said they are “fully engaged with every resource available,” and have also been in contact with Kentucky and Louisiana to provide additional resources. 

DeSantis warned of the impact Hurricane Ian is anticipated to bring on Florida’s Gulf Coast, including heavy rain, strong wind, flash flooding and storm surge, telling Gulf Coast residents they should feel the impact of the storm up to 36 hours before landfall. 

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

In addition to the 7,000 soldiers 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, adding that 210 medical professionals have been assigned to Hillsborough County’s special needs shelters and 300 ambulances have been assigned to support special needs evacuations in the Tampa Bay area.

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

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