Florida officials want residents to evacuate the area directly south of Lake Okeechobee as Hurricane Irma approaches.
Gov. Rick Scott released a statement Thursday ordering an immediate voluntary evacuation for cities surrounding the southern half of the lake from Lake Port to Canal Point in Hendry, Palm Beach and Glades counties.
Mandatory evacuations will be put in place beginning Friday morning.
Scott made the decision after discussing the Herbert Hoover Dike with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Col. Jason Kirk told Scott the structural integrity of the dike would not be compromised, but excessive could wind push some water over the dike.
The seven cities affected by the order are Belle Glade, Canal Point, Clewiston, Lake Harbor, Moore Haven, Pahokee and South Bay.