Federal, state, and charity representatives met with members from several northeast Oklahoma counties Wednesday, July 31, for the first official meeting of the newly formed Northeast Oklahoma Disaster Recovery Coalition.

NEODRC will serve northeast Oklahoma communities as a partner organization through the Oklahoma Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster. The Oklahoma VOAD is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization where member groups share knowledge and resources throughout the disaster cycle to help survivors and their communities.

In northeast Oklahoma, NEODRC has tentatively established the federally designated counties of Cherokee, Craig, Delaware, Mayes, and Ottawa within the scope of its service mission.

Among primary topics discussed at the first official meeting was the fast-approaching Aug. 14 disaster aid application and appeal deadline extension.

Following a request from the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, deadlines to apply for aid were extended from July 31 to Aug. 14 for residents and businesses impacted by storms and flooding that occurred May 7-June 9.

NEODRC is urging affected residents and businesses in the service area to take advantage of the extension for new filings or appeals. The process allows survivors potential access to available post-disaster aid and Oklahoma VOAD groups to properly assess and fulfill unmet needs in their communities.

Individual and family residents may register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and businesses can file for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The extension also allows residents and businesses additional time to submit appeals if they have previously submitted aid requests and been denied or if their situation has changed.

Even those with disaster insurance are encouraged to file after speaking with their insurance agent to meet needs that are not covered in their claim.

According to FEMA, federal disaster assistance for individuals and families can include money for rental assistance, essential home repairs, personal property losses, and other serious disaster-related needs.

To register for FEMA assistance, call 800-621-3362, TTY at 800-462-7585, or visit www.disasterassistance.gov.

Applications can also be completed via the FEMA app, available for Apple and Android mobile devices. To download the app, visit fema.gov/mobile-app.

Applications for low-interest SBA loans can be filed online at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Low-interest disaster loans are available from the SBA to homeowners, renters, businesses and private nonprofit organizations. For more information or assistance, applicants can also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955.

Persons interested in joining NEODRC can attend the next meeting at 6 pm on Thursday, Aug. 8, at the American Legion Post 178, 114 S. Broadway in Grove, Oklahoma, or contact NEODRC Facilitator Mona Poole at poole.mona@odlemanagement.com.

Needed at the table are representatives of local community services, social services, businesses, municipal government, tribal entities, churches, and health providers able to help assess needs and assist in local recovery efforts.