Memphis’ Jewish community is pitching in to help neighbors inundated by several weeks of major rain storms and flooding.

“People are calling to offer help, people are calling to find out if there are people that need help,” said Rabbi Levi Klein, director of Chabad Lubavitch of Tennessee. “Memphis is a big small town.”

Ira Berlin was among those who went downtown to help fill sandbags last Friday. He spent the morning in the parking lot of one of Memphis’s indoor arenas along the Mississippi River, part of a group of several hundred volunteers in his shift.

“It’s like an assembly line,” he said of the operation, which started with a dump truck’s worth of sand in the parking lot. “Two shovels of sand goes into each bag.”

He also dropped off a check at the local TV station for the American Red Cross as part of a matching grant for flood relief.

“We’re part of the community” he said, adding that he expects many of the area’s Jewish residents also contributed. A 46-year Memphis local, “I consider this my home,” he said.

While downtown areas were hardest hit by the flooding, Memphis’s Jewish community, which is estimated at 12,000 to 15,000 people, was largely spared and suffered only some damage to associated businesses.

“I know some people whose businesses were affected, but nobody’s homes were affected,” said Klein.

The Chabad House, which sits on a creek in the middle of a flood plain, went into flood preparedness mode after morning prayer services May 1. Staff moved everything from computers to bookcases off the floor.

“We had to put everything higher,” said the rabbi.

They monitored the situation closely and the threat passed.

“The creek did rise to higher levels than it’s ever risen before, but we did not have actual flooding, so we’re very grateful for that,” said Klein.

As the Mississippi River crested earlier this week, Memphis began moving from threat to recovery.

Chabad has been working with other local Jewish organizations and coordinating support.

“We’ve made it known to everybody that our phones will be available 24 hours a day for anybody that might need assistance or know of anybody that might need assistance or a place to go or stay,” said Klein. “We are here for the needs of the community.”

The rabbi recently spent an hour talking with a spice manufacturer whose business had been flooded. The routine visit, as part of a kosher certification inspection, turned into an hour long conversation about how he’ll be able to get beyond the material and rebuild his business in the future.

“He had a very positive attitude,” said Klein. “Property is replaceable.”

Recovery could take weeks, and meteorologists have predicted that it might be months before all of the floodwaters recede. Massive flooding persists downstream and travel out of the city can be difficult. The trip to Little Rock, Ark., for instance, which normally takes two hours, now includes a 110-mile detour.

“There are places that you literally just see a stop sign sticking out of the water,” said Klein.

Authorities credited the city’s emergency preparedness plans and evacuations with preventing loss of life.

“There’s really a great amount of local help and everybody’s helping everybody get through it,” Klein remarked. “There’s lots of good information out there. The city is really up and running and functioning.”