The storm is passing, but for some the hard work begins today.

The residents of Onslow County who experienced damage from Hurricane Matthew will need to get the ball rolling on claims for their homes and vehicles.

Many area officials advised residents to bring in loose items — like lawn chairs, flags and trashcans — prior to the storm hitting Onslow County, but meteorologists predicted trees uprooting from the recent wet weather and branches snapping in the wind gusts Matthew brought along, things only Mother Nature has control over.

That’s where insurance companies come in.

The first thing residents with damage need to do is prevent further damage, said Advantage Insurance Agency Agent Rosie Miller.

“If they have a leak in the roof, they need to cover it up,” she said as an example.

Not fixing the leak, or allowing mold to grow by not cleaning up standing water, could cause issues with the claim, Miller said. If a problem on a claim goes from bad to worse, an adjuster is going to want to know why the owner didn’t try to fix it when they had the chance, she said.

Photos and videos of ruined areas should also be taken, Miller said, and hopefully owners have photos and videos of the area or item from before to use as a comparison.

If not, Miller suggests doing this in the future. Having a before and after is proof of the damage and helps the claims process move more smoothly, she said.

“You could just literally hand it over to an adjuster and say, ‘This is what my home looked like before,’” Miller said.

Other precautionary measures that not only help prevent damages but also help the claims include not parking vehicles under trees, filling up boats with water to prevent them from tipping over and taking the front yard decorations inside the house, Miller said.

If a claim does need to be filed, Miller said to keep in mind the timing and that after a hurricane or large storm, there are a lot more claims.

“It’s not like your normal day where you might have 50 claims in a day,” Miller said. “This is going to be thousands of claims in a day.”

Because of that, Miller recommended claims be filed as soon as possible to get higher on the list and, as a result, have the claim paid more quickly.

If residents prefer to speak with an agent in person they can visit a local office branch or, if they want to file the claim as fast as possible, it can be filed online with most insurance companies, Miller said.

Many websites now include an online form to fill out, including a way to upload photos and videos, and most of the information necessary is going to be on the website.

No matter what, time is of the essence when it comes to filing a claim, according to Miller, and it’s best to get everything done as quickly as possible.