Hurricane Irene Projected Path (Map 3)
Hurricane Irene Projected Path National Hurricane Center

After experiencing an out-of-the-blue earthquake earlier this week, New England residents must prepare for another natural disaster: Hurricane Irene.

The storm will likely be the first to make landfall in the area since Hurricane Bob assaulted coastal communities in 1991. While New Englanders prove year after year that they can handle their share of poor weather, authorities are taking no chances with Irene, and preparing for the worst ahead of time.

Hurricane Irene, currently a Category 3 storm, ripped through the Bahamas on Wednesday night with 120-mile-per hour winds. Irene is expected to reach Category 4 strength as it nears the Carolinas, before downgrading to a Category 1 or weak Category 2 by the time it makes landfall in New England on Sunday.

A handful of events have been rescheduled in apprehension of Irene, The Boston Globe reports. Country music star Kenny Chesney has reportedly moved up a Boston concert to Friday, instead of Sunday as originally planned. Terry Francona, the manager of The Red Sox, told the newspaper the team is attempting to reorganize three weekend games with the Oakland Athletics in order to fit them all in before the hurricane approaches.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) has been consulting with other New England states, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Weather Service to ensure the region is fully prepared, CBS News reports.

MEMA's Web site offers a series of hurricane preparation tips. The agency recommends that every home and business stock an emergency supply kit - which should include a flashlight, batteries, non-perishable foods, bottled water, a first aid kit and a portable radio - and prepare a disaster 'Go Bag' with essential items in case of a sudden evacuation.

On Thursday, Lieutenant Ed Guilford of the Barnstable Fire Department told The Boston Globe that much of Cape Cod is already preparing for severe weather.

We have a checklist that we do when there is an impending storm. It mostly includes making sure that our vehicles are fueled . . . [and] making sure the station is ready, he said.

Guilford added that the Barnstable Police Department in scheduled to host emergency preparedness meetings on Thursday.

Edward Johnson, the acting director of the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency, said authorities plan on completing their storm preparations by Saturday afternoon.

That's when the tropical force winds are heavily anticipated, he said.

Johnson said the agency is particularly concerned about flooding in the state's coastal communities since significant storm surge is expected to affect the area. The areas of Block Island, Westerly, Charlestown, Narragansett, South Kingston and Barrington should be on high alert.

Officials said state residents should stock a basic emergency supply kit and advised locals to keep tabs on media reports regarding Irene's progress.