13 CFR § 123.2 - What are disaster loans and disaster declarations?
SBA offers low interest, fixed rate loans to disaster victims, enabling them to repair or replace property damaged or destroyed in declared disasters. It also offers such loans to affected small businesses to help them recover from economic injury caused by such disasters. SBA also offers interim guaranteed disaster loans, in participation with financial institutions, to affected small businesses (“IDAP loans”). Disaster declarations are official notices recognizing that specific geographic areas have been damaged by floods and other acts of nature, riots, civil disorders, or industrial accidents such as oil spills. These disasters are sudden events which cause severe physical damage, and do not include slower physical occurrences such as shoreline erosion or gradual land settling. However, for purposes of economic injury disaster loans only, they do include droughts and below average water levels in the Great Lakes or on any body of water in the United States that supports commerce by small businesses. Sudden events that cause substantial economic injury may be disasters even if they do not cause physical damage to a victim's property. Past examples include ocean conditions causing significant displacement (major ocean currents) or closure (toxic algae blooms) of customary fishing waters, as well as contamination of food or other products for human consumption from unforeseeable and unintended events beyond the control of the victims.