Millions of Florida residents were without power yesterday as the remnants of Hurricane Irma spun northwest into the southeastern US, drenching the region and causing rivers to overflow.
Most of the Sunshine State appeared to have dodged forecasts of catastrophic damage despite dire early warnings.
But Irma's overall death toll jumped to at least 40 after Cuba reported that 10 people had been killed there over the weekend.
Irma roared ashore as a powerful Category 4 hurricane when it hit the far southern Florida Keys on Sunday, tearing boats from their moorings, uprooting palm trees and downing power lines, after devastating a string of Caribbean islands.
By the time it hit the US mainland the storm had been downgraded, and by late Monday it had weakened further to a tropical depression.
Across the Caribbean, hard-hit island residents struggled to get back on their feet as Britain, France, the Netherlands and the United States increased relief efforts.
About 15 million people in Florida were without power, however, and Governor Rick Scott said the island chain known as the Keys had suffered widespread damage.
Irma destroyed a quarter of the houses in the Florida Keys, the US emergency response chief said yesterday.
"Some of the initial estimates are -- and this is why we asked people to evacuate, largely from storm surge -- 25 percent of the houses in the Keys initially have been destroyed and 60 percent have been damaged," FEMA director Brock Long said.
"Basically every house in the Keys has been impacted some way or another," Long told a news conference.
Keys residents were just beginning to return but most of the low-lying archipelago south of Miami remains closed to traffic as authorities assessed conditions.
Aerial views and television images show extensive damage awaits them in what in normal times is a palmy haven for tourists, boaters and scuba divers