CLEWISTON, Fla. — Florida’s Lake Okeechobee has reached its highest water level in 12 years, leading officials to take steps that they say will protect nearby towns that are near its dike.

The Army Corps of Engineers said Thursday the lake’s level has reached 16.7 feet (5.1 meters), almost 3 feet higher than a month ago before Hurricane Irma ran through the state. The Corps is draining water into the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico and doing near-daily inspections of the Hoover Dike.

The lake topped 17 feet in 2005 after Hurricane Wilma. The 1947 record is 18.7 feet.

Failures of the original embankments during hurricanes in 1926 and 1928 killed over 3,000 people when waters flooded neighboring towns. About 40,000 people live nearby today.

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