Efforts began Monday evening when President Obama signed an emergency declaration, making federal funds available to Puerto Rico to supplement local response efforts. FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said that teams already have been deployed to the commonwealth, where they are loading supplies from warehouses, dispatching supply trucks, restoring and maintaining power lines, and clearing debris.
The National Hurricane Center has predicted Irene will approach the coast of the Carolinas on Saturday morning.
"We're going to have a very large tropical cyclone over the next five to seven days," NHC Director Bill Read, said.
FEMA has deployed its National Incident Management Team to work with the North Carolina state emergency management office. Additionally, the southeastern regional office is in contact with emergency management officials in surrounding states.
While NHC is relying on forecast models to predict the storm's route past 48 hours, Read said the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions could see strong flash flood potential. Depending on where the storm goes, its aftereffects could be widespread, according to FEMA.
Fugate stressed the need for people in potentially affected areas to prepare.
"We have a lot of time for people to get ready, but we don't have forever," he said.