The "extremely dangerous" Hurricane Ian is set to make landfall in Florida Wednesday – and residents boarded up their homes, closed their businesses and evacuated to higher ground as they brace for catastrophic impact.
After Hurricane Ian slammed into Cuba on Tuesday as a life-threatening Category 3 storm, it strengthened into a Category 4 storm – nearing a Category 5 storm – as it approached the west coast of Florida early Wednesday.
With maximum sustained winds at 155 mph, the hurricane is expected to cause a life-threatening storm surge, catastrophic winds and flooding in the Florida Peninsula, the National Hurricane Center said Wednesday.
As of 7 a.m. ET, the center of Hurricane Ian was located 65 miles west-southwest of Naples.
Hundreds of thousands of Floridians have faced mandatory evacuation orders. Officials say power outages can also be expected statewide, with reports of more than 70,000 homes and businesses in South Florida already in the dark early Wednesday.
Do I need to evacuate?: How to stay safe as Hurricane Ian approaches Florida's coast.
Many residents fear that they could lose everything – and have taken action in recent days to protect their homes and businesses.
"It could come at us," Nick Ticich told the USA TODAY Network as he boarded up his family's T-Shirt Hut in Sanibel, about 50 miles south of Venice, on Monday. The family has owned the shop since the 1950s. "We can lose the building. We can lose everything."
People packed their belongings into cars and boarded up their windows. Stores closed their doors. Here are some poignant photos of Florida residents bracing for Hurricane Ian's impact.
Contributing: John Bacon, Celina Tebor, Thao Nguyen, USA TODAY. Samantha Neely, Fort Myers News-Press.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hurricane Ian photos: Florida residents board up homes, close shops