Neil Diamond sets up rebuilding fund in Oak Island

Neil Diamond sets up rebuilding fund in Oak Island

05:27 PM CST on Monday, November 17, 2008

Wendell Edwards / 11 News ‘

OAK ISLAND, Texas – After Hurricane Ike, the rebuilding process in Chambers County has been slow, but steady. Many people are still living in tents, while others are waiting on their trailer from FEMA.

“We don’t have a choice. We don’t have much money,” said Van Hieu Nguyen, Oak Island resident.

Nguyen’s home is now a tent. He sleeps on a cot in his clothes and a few covers. But with the temperatures being so cold, on Monday night, he’ll be using a heater to keep him warm.

Nguyen is not alone. The strong winds from Hurricane Ike blew away all but 8 of the 350 homes in this small town. But the town is rebuilding.

Next to Oak Island Baptist Church, which is the headquarters of the community’s tent city, are dozen and dozens of donated items. They include everything from food to clothes.

But the biggest donor has been singer Neil Diamond.

Diamond was in Houston for a concert when he heard about Oak Island. He dropped by to see how he could help.

“He wanted to find out who we were, and he wanted to see the damage. Evidently, we made an impression on him,” said Pastor Eddie Shauberger, Oak Island Baptist Church.

Diamond has set up a fund to help rebuild homes for people like 84-year-old Wayne Dearman, who lost everything including his 6-bedroom house.

“They cannot find one scrap of it,” said Wayne Dearman, Oak Island resident.

Dearman is a World War II veteran and was the first Oak Island resident to get a FEMA trailer.

“In the war, I saw buildings that were shot up and towns that were bombed, but I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Dearman.

The most pressing issue for the community is the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. But according to Oak Island officials, three churches from The Woodlands have volunteered to provide a feast for the entire community.

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