Boaters at sea rescued by sheriffs during Hurricane Ian | USA TODAY #Shorts

Two people trapped on a sailboat off the Florida coast were rescued by the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit in the midst of Hurricane Ian.

RELATED: Hurricane Ian storm surge floods Fort Myers

The death toll was rising and residents desperately sought rescue Thursday as historically powerful Hurricane Ian, now a tropical storm, hammered Florida with heavy rain and strong winds, one of the strongest systems in U.S. history.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis described the storm as “500-year flooding event” and said Coast Guard helicopters were plucking trapped residents from the roofs of homes. Communities across the state were or will be swamped by the overwhelming waters, he said.

“The impacts of this storm are historic and the damage that has been done is historic,” DeSantis said. “We’ve never seen a flood event like this, we’ve never seen a storm surge of this magnitude.”

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