BELLE GLADE, Fla. – Many people in the small, impoverished communities south of Lake Okeechobee said they wouldn't evacuate Friday.
In Belle Glade, people covering a gas station's windows with plywood said they either had no transportation and nowhere to go, or they chose to accept whatever fate Hurricane Irma would inflict upon them.
The Army Corps of Engineers said the lake's 80-year-old dike isn't in danger of a breach. But Col. Jason Kirk said Irma's winds may push lake-waters over a few of its weak points, aggravating flooding caused by rainfall or storm surge.
Florida officials ordered mandatory evacuations in seven small cities in the "Muck City" area. The communities are known for producing two dozen professional football players, growing sugarcane and inspiring a classic novel of the Harlem Renaissance, "Their Eyes Were Watching God."