Hurricane Dennis moved over Key West, the southernmost city in the United States on Saturday, after causing heavy damage in Cuba. At least 10 people died in Cuba, and at least 10 others have died in Haiti from the storm.
Residents of the Florida Keys breathed a sigh of relief, as a weakened Dennis passed over their homes, bringing heavy rains and high winds, but not the sort of damage seen in Cuba just hours earlier. Key West City Manager Julio Avael says residents of the colorful city have begun cleaning up from the storm.
"Damage is very minimal here in the city of Key West," he said. "We have been very lucky, with just a few trees down. One home was damaged by a tree, and we went in and took out [rescued] an 80-year-old woman. Some of our streets are flooded, but we faring extremely well. We got very lucky last night."
Dennis struck the island of Cuba as a Category Four storm, on a scale of one to five. Winds of 240 kilometers per hour caused extensive damage in southern Cuba, and massive power outages were reported across the island.
While the storm weakened as it passed over Cuba, forecasters say Hurricane Dennis will get stronger as it makes it way north through the Gulf of Mexico. More than 100 offshore oil rigs in the Gulf have been evacuated. Hundreds of thousands of people have been urged to evacuate Gulf coastal areas as far west as Louisiana. Florida Governor Jeb Bush says state authorities are preparing for a major emergency.
"The state of Florida and our federal partners are taking all necessary actions in anticipation of any impact from Hurricane Dennis," Gov. Bush said. "We are, obviously, fully prepared to respond to the needs of all Floridians and our communities."
Last year, four hurricanes struck the state of Florida, killing more than 100 people, and causing billions of dollars in damages.