13 CFR § 123.4 - What is a disaster area and why is it important?
Each disaster declaration defines the geographical areas affected by the disaster. Only those victims located in the declared disaster area are eligible to apply for SBA disaster loans. When the President declares a major disaster, the Federal Emergency Management Agency defines the disaster area. In major disasters, economic injury disaster loans and IDAP loans may be made for victims in contiguous counties or other political subdivisions, provided, however that with respect to major disasters which authorize public assistance only, SBA shall not make economic injury disaster or IDAP loans in counties contiguous to the disaster area. Except for rural disaster declarations (as defined in § 123.3), disaster declarations issued by SBA include contiguous counties for both physical, economic injury and, in some cases IDAP assistance. Rural disaster declarations do not include assistance for contiguous counties. Contiguous counties or other political subdivisions are those land areas which abut the land area of the declared disaster area without geographic separation other than by a minor body of water, not to exceed one mile between the land areas of such counties. When SBA issues an economic injury disaster declaration in response to a determination of an emergency involving Federal primary responsibility by the President, the disaster area shall include each State or subdivision thereof (including counties) included in the President's emergency determination.