BELMAR, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Storm preps got underway in New Jersey on Thursday as severe weather moved into the area.

As CBS2’s Alice Gainer reports, there were quite a few people out on the beach in Belmar earlier, but then the thunder and lightning cleared everyone out.

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Officials were not overly concerned there, but they were getting ready.

To prevent flooding in the area, Lake Como has been partially drained.

“We’ve dropped the lake 12 inches to prepare for the incoming influx of water,” said Cory Willchinski, with Belmar Department of Public Works water maintenance.

It took about 16 hours to lower. The water goes into the ocean.

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“Right now, we’re in storm mode,” Belmar Business Administrator Edward Kirschenbaum said.

Belmar officials say other preps are underway.

“Cleaning all our storm drains out, making sure our emergency gear is in shape, our generators,” Kirschenbaum said. “We’re gonna move everything off the beach, all barrels, lifeguard stands, some of the mats, so we’re gonna try to make sure they don’t become projectiles or they don’t get destroyed in the storm.”

Power companies like JCP&L explained how they’re getting ready.

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“Our biggest concern with Elsa right now is the rain more so than wind threat. Having just had storms this week, the ground is already saturated,” JCP&L spokesman Chris Hoenig said.

That raises concerns about trees toppling.

“We do have some sub stations that are in flood-prone areas. We are taking mitigation steps there, such as barriers and pumps,” Hoenig said.

JCP&L says 120 line workers from out of state are already here helping with outages from a storm earlier this week, and they will keep them here to help.

PSE&G is also still working to restore power to some customers and says it’s adding additional personnel to respond.

Another concern is a rough and angry ocean pre- and post-storm.

“Swimming, I would anticipate not allowing probably at all tomorrow,” one lifeguard said.

“Stay away from the surf, particulary on unguarded beaches,” Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden said.

Belmar lifeguards say they had 40 saves on Monday. They might on a normal day make about five.

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Residents are also reminded to tie anything outside their home down, don’t park where it floods and watch out for hidden downed power lines in water.

Alice Gainer