As Hurricane Irene roars toward the East Coast, demand for portable generators produced by Briggs & Stratton Corp. is on the rise.

“We have been seeing a significant increase all week in portable generator demand and we have been shipping at a fast pace,” said Laura Timm, spokeswoman for Wauwatosa-based Briggs (NYSE: BGG). “We have ramped up production as well to ensure we are able to provide power to all those that will likely be affected with power outages caused by Hurricane Irene.”

Disaster planners have been preparing for massive power outages from the Carolinas to New England. Atlanta-based home improvement retailer Home Depot (NYSE: HD) said some items like generators, water, plywood, tarps, batteries and gas cans have sold out and the company is replenishing as fast as it can to meet the demand.

Milwaukee-area retailer Kohl's Corp. (NYSE: KSS), which has numerous stores up and down the East Coast, also has an eye on Irene and is moving forward with contingency efforts.

"The safety and security of our customers and associates is our foremost priority, and we are monitoring the situation closely," Vicki Shamion, senior vice president of public and community relations for Menomonee Falls, WI-based Kohl's, said in an e-mail response to a reporter's questions. "We are securing and waterproofing facilities along the coast and have detailed plans in place to respond promptly as needed."