BISMARCK - The North Dakota National Guard is sending three helicopters and 15 personnel to the East Coast to assist the emergency response to Hurricane Florence if needed.

The helicopters and personnel will depart Saturday morning, Sept. 15, from Bismarck to Maryland to be near the disaster area in case they are asked to assist with life-saving or life-sustaining efforts, Gov. Doug Burgum's office said.

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North Dakota has not received a request for help from states hit by Florence, which was downgraded to a tropical storm Friday, Sept. 14, but it's anticipated such a request could come soon.

Under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, governors can request mutual aid from other states to share resources, personnel and equipment across state lines during times of emergencies or disasters.

Florence has pounded the Carolinas. The Dakotas Region of the American Red Cross sent 27 people to the region this week and is waiting to see what happens before sending additional volunteers, spokeswoman Gretchen Hjelmstad told the Minot Daily News.