FEMA Prepares for Possible Evacuations Forced by Hurricane Earl

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is preparing for possible evacuations along the East Coast if Hurricane Earl comes close to the U.S. coastline, FEMA administrator Craig Fugate said Tuesday.

FEMA is sending staff up and down the East Coast to help prepare communities potentially affected by the Category 4 storm, and has teams deployed already in the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and North Carolina.

FEMA administrator Craig Fugate said Tuesday that people along the eastern seaboard should be prepared in case evacuations are necessary later this week.

The agency announced Monday that it has supplies strategically located across the country, including water, meals, tarps, blankets, generators and other essential items.

"We're taking steps to aggressively prepare should a hurricane make landfall along the East Coast," Fugate said in a statement distributed by the agency.

Fugate is also briefing Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano regularly.

While Earl's trajectory now is to brush the coastline before going back out to sea, the agency warned that hurricanes frequently bring them heavy rains inland and the threat of flash flooding.

FEMA noted that floods are the costliest natural disaster in the United States, and so valuables and important documents should be copied and kept in a safe place.

Maine Emergency Management Agency Duty Officer Jon Burbank told FoxNews.com that he was expecting FEMA's Region One officials to arrive in Augusta on Thursday in anticipation of the storm's arrival.

Burbank said that the state has a dedicated Incident Management Assistance Team that handles coordinating emergency operations for the state and county levels, including "mass sheltering and mass population feeding."

Burbank, who noted that Maine doesn't have to be hit by the eye of the storm to experience an emergency, said MEMA is prepared to handle most everything in the state. The agency is holding a conference call Wednesday for decision-makers from the governor's office to the fish and wildlife agency, forest rangers, the Red Cross and utility companies.

"We always have to reach out, but with the IMAT team we don't need to reach as far," he said, adding that MEMA's role is not to dispatch or control but to assist first responders at the local level.