Farmers in Lödderitz on the banks of the Elbe, used their tractors to deliver sand to volunteers filling sandbags, trying to prevent the village in Saxony-Anhalt from being overwhelmed by the rising waters.
"I am a pensioner, but you have to help - we're practically becoming professionals," said Heinrich Herzog, 75, who was filling some of the estimated 300,000 sandbags needed to shore up the eight kilometres of dykes.
An ice-cream van arrived at the sandbag-filling spot on Wednesday and the driver handed out free treats and drinks to the volunteers, lightening the tense atmosphere.
A battalion of Bundeswehr soldiers were also deployed there, working shoulder-to-shoulder with the civilian volunteers to placed the sandbags in special formation on the dykes.
It was a picture of civil action and cooperation with the authorities in the face of some of the worse flooding on record that was repeated across the country this week.