WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Susan Collins, Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Committee, said Thursday that she is keeping in close contact with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regarding the emergency preparations associated with Hurricane Earl, which is projected to pass near North Carolina tonight and move up the East Coast to Maine this week.

“I have been receiving regular updates from FEMA and the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) about the path and progress of this strong hurricane,” said Senator Collins. “Today, the National Hurricane Center issued a Tropical Storm Watch for the entire coast of Maine. Additionally, a Tropical Storm Wind Watch was issued for inland Washington and Hancock counties in Downeast Maine.”

The Homeland Security Committee has jurisdiction over FEMA, which is projecting that Hurricane Earl will hit the Gulf of Maine late Friday night or early Saturday.

“I urge Maine residents to heed the warnings of their local and state emergency management officials,” said Senator Collins. “Given the power of the storm, it is expected to produce some power outages and downed trees, with high surf and rip currents along the coast.”

FEMA has deployed Incident Management Assistance Teams (IMAT) to all potentially-impacted states, including Maine. IMATs are interagency teams of experts deployed in advance of or in response to a disaster incident, assisting regional and local emergency management officials. The team deployed to Maine is working with FEMA Region I, headquartered in Boston, and with MEMA in preparation for Hurricane Earl’s arrival on Maine’s coastline.

While the storm currently is categorized as a level three hurricane, Maine’s cooler ocean temperatures are expected to slow it to a level one or two hurricane. Officials with the National Weather Service remain uncertain about the exact path of Hurricane Earl, although they expect the bulk of the storm to remain offshore.

“It has been five years since a hurricane has hit the East Coast and FEMA is taking this threat very seriously, as is MEMA,” said Senator Collins. “MEMA has been directing storm preparations all week in conjunction with local emergency managers, first responders and owners and operators of our state’s infrastructure. MEMA will continue to monitor Hurricane Earl’s track for any changes, working in conjunction with FEMA and the National Weather Service.”