Monroe County opened road access on Tuesday morning for residents and business owners from Key Largo, the main island at the upper end of the chain, as well as the towns of Tavernier and Islamorada farther to the south, fire officials said.
Jonathan Brubaker, 51, waited out the storm bunkered in a recently constructed house in Bradenton, on the state's west coast, with hurricane shutters drawn, flashlights and candles ready.
Hurricane Irma has been blamed for at least five deaths in Florida, two in the state of Georgia and two in South Carolina.It killed at least 35 people as it tore through islands in the Caribbean last week.
While the eye of the hurricane was 200 miles away from Charleston, S.C., it nonetheless produced a storm surge in the historic city. Rose still can't reach his family on the Florida Keys, where a quarter of the islands' houses are annihilated.
From the air, one Keys community appears not to have suffered extensive damage.
"Each gust felt like someone was giving you a lash on the back and you thought: 'What did I just lose?' " Mr. Baudoin said.
"It's seen its share of hurricanes", Palmer said.
Jacksonville, Florida - the largest city by area in the contiguous United States - is still trying to recover from record-breaking storm surge and flooding on Monday.
The storm was still hurling 65 miles per hour winds Monday, pummeling cities in northeast Florida that had not expected to feel its full wrath. But Gov. Roy Cooper said most problems in the state should be resolved by Wednesday.
He said the water, electricity and sewage systems in the Keys were non-operational, and that trailer parks had been "overturned".
Local news reports said at least one crane collapsed in Miami, as a result of the high wind speed of Irma, which was estimated to be at least 100mph.
Irma was the strongest Atlantic storm ever recorded and an unusually large tropical cyclone, with strong winds extending hundreds of kilometers out from its center.
Empty properties and businesses have been sacked by the opportunistic thieves, however police say they have made several arrests and will crack down hard on looters.
And in Alabama, some city school districts including Birmingham, Huntsville and Auburn planned to close Monday and in some cases Tuesday. We've got downed power lines all across the state.
First Category 5 hurricane to make landfall in The Bahamas since Andrew in 1992. It was one of four hurricanes to hit the Sunshine State that year.