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The death toll was mounting and residents were scrambling for help Thursday as the historically powerful Hurricane Ian, now a tropical storm, slammed into Florida with heavy rain and strong winds. one of the strongest systems in US history.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis called the storm a “500-year flood” and said Coast Guard helicopters were plucking residents from their rooftops. Communities across the state have been or will be inundated by extreme waters, he said.

“The impact of this storm is historic and the damage that was done is historic,” DeSantis said. “We’ve never seen flooding like this, we’ve never seen a storm surge of this magnitude.”

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