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Western New York just sustained one of the first major winter storm systems of the year, and the media was there to show viewers across the country how severe snowfall was. As property owners size up the damage from the inclement weather, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand urged homeowners to photograph their affected properties to demonstrate need for reimbursement.

"In order to get FEMA reimbursements in order for both personal loss and business loss, we have to establish a certain level of damage, and the most accurate way to do that is to take photographs to document any losses you have and that will allow state and federal officials to be able to make a case to FEMA that not only has a disaster occurred, but we've incurred significant losses that need to be reimbursed," said the senator, according to Time Warner News.  

Overall, the expected cost for the government agency is expected to top $27 million. Gillibrand and others have called on residents to educate themselves on how to qualify for federal aid, funds that are available to help taxpayers through this challenging economic situation. Many small businesses were forced to shut down for a week, until conditions outside improved. The lost business and incidental destruction have caused lawmakers to pressure the Small Business Administration to provide disaster assistance. 

In total, the SBA will likely extend up to $2 million in loans to businesses whose insurance policies didn't cover the costs completely. For homeowners, loans of $40,000 and less can be sought to help replace personal property, while loans as large as $200,000 are available to help with severely damaged structures. In the meantime, homeowners should make effective use of their smartphones, documenting as much of the destruction as possible.