(CBS) MINEOLA, N.Y. For nearly 20 years, Rabbi Anchelle Perl had been rebuilding the once struggling Beth Sholom Chabad Synagogue in Mineola. When Wednesday morning's storm rolled in, he watched the synagogue's offices, library, and social hall disappear under more than four feet of water. He tried desperately to save anything he could."By the time I got to the second level, I just saw it literally surging up and up and up. And I was literally running for my life upstairs," Perl tells CBS 2 HD. Everything down in the temple's basement was damaged beyond repair and must be replaced, including all the appliances in the kitchen and the entire floor in the ballroom.The cost to rebuild is estimated to be more than half a million dollars."It's very sad because I've spent so many years building lives and communities, and now I have to turn and rebuild myself," Perl says. Priceless religious books, letters, records and even the temple's Torah found floating in water will be buried in a formal ceremony. Still, it's the broken heart of Rabbi Perl, known as a generous contributor to his community, that has drawn members and non-members to the temple to help."The damage here is all going to be fixed. This isn't about the structure of the building or the Torahs or the scriptures. This is about giving back to Rabbi Perl and be supportive of him," said congregant David Lerman."I'm not a member here, but I felt the need and the obligation to help out and give back," said volunteer Barry Heffron. And under Perl's spiritual leadership, there's no doubt the synagogue will be even better than before."It's sad, but I'm gonna take it as a sign that we have to work harder and turn this tragedy into a triumph," Perl said.The second floor worship area was not damaged. Services will continue to be held there.