Concerns about Lake Okeechobee, Erika prompt visit from Sen. Bil - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Concerns about Lake Okeechobee, Erika prompt visit from Sen. Bill Nelson

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PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - With Erika approaching, concerns are growing about possible flooding around Lake Okeechobee.

Officials are concerned about the decades-old dike that surrounds the body of water. On Friday, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson will be meeting with local emergency management officials there. 

The Herbert Hoover Dike, which stands some 30 feet tall in areas, was constructed over decades to keep Lake Okeechobee from flooding parts of South Florida. 

In a news release, Nelson said he’ll be focusing on progress that’s been made to rebuild the dike and construct holding areas for waters that would overflow from the lake.

“We’ve spent a lot of time and taxpayer money over the last few years,” Nelson said Thursday before heading to West Palm Beach. “And with what could be the first hurricane in nearly ten years heading straight towards the lake, we have to know that we’re ready and prepared.”

After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, officials started examining the 143-mile-long Herbert Hoover Dike.  

First constructed after two major storms hit South Florida in the late 1920s, the dike has been cited in the past for its infrastructure problems, which the Army Corps of Engineers has been trying to fix. 

Since 2007, more than $300 million in federal funds have been spent to improve the structure.

Palm Beach County’s Director of Emergency Management Bill Johnson and others will brief Nelson at 10 a.m. Friday at the Palm Beach County Emergency Operations Center. 

Around 2 p.m., Nelson will take a helicopter tour of the dike and water storage project he helped get authorized and funded in the recently passed Water Resources Reform and Development Act.

And at 3:30 p.m., Nelson will be meeting with emergency management officials at the Martin County Emergency Operations Center in Stuart, Fla. 

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