Live Updates: Hurricane Ian batters Florida coast 

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The region has been mobilizing in preparation for the storm. evacuation orders are now in place from Levy and Lee counties, a stretch of more than 240 miles along the western shoreline. All ports around Tampa, St. Petersburg and Manatee have been closed.

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced early Wednesday the storm had changed course and will be hitting Charlotte County. Residents are warned that it will be too late to complete a total evacuation of the area. And to prepare for the incoming storm.

An estimated 2.5 million people along the Gulf coast of Florida are being urged to evacuate as Hurricane Ian approaches.

 Governor DeSantis has also activated 5,000 troops from the state’s National Guard.

He also warned local residents to expect flash flooding, torrential rain and a historic storm surge.

President Joe Biden claims he has approved Florida requests for emergency assistance. FEMA has deployed 700 personnel to the state. 

Local media broadcasts are showing live updates of major highways jammed with cars and trucks. Residents are attempting to escape the more vulnerable cities and towns along Florida’s western coast.

Cuba hit by Hurricane Ian

Western Cuba was hit with a Category 3 storm as Ian passed through. The entire country experienced a nationwide power outage.