Sisters Becky Ledford and Tina Wise with the Army National Guard out of Houston. Courtesy Photo

Jennifer Clarke  – For The Record

Southeast Texas is no stranger to the devastating effects of tumultuous storms. Having survived Rita, Ike, and the recent floods in Orange County, just in the past two decades, the communities of Southeast Texas know what it means to recover from a storm. Unlike the event, which moves in and passes, the destruction left in its wake can last for weeks, months, and sometimes even years.

Two sisters, Becky Ledford and Tina Wise, American Red Cross Volunteers, live and work in Southeast Texas. They know that the residual fallout from a storm or major event does not come and go in a short time. As many community members recall the truckloads of water, ice, and meals that came in during storms past, they will also remember that the American Red Cross was still coming by in trucks filled with meals through neighborhoods weeks after everyone else left, as community members still sifted through the remains of their lives and homes.

“Once the trucks pull out of Southeast Texas and the guts and glory and all the bells and whistles are gone, the American Red Cross will still be here,” Ledford notes.  Surviving the storms is one thing, but recovering from devastation is another. “Volunteers are needed here all year long,” said Wise, a Mauriceville, Texas resident. “Beyond the long-term flood recovery, there are multi-family fires where volunteers comfort people who’ve lost their homes.” Ledford and Wise are committed volunteers who aid the American Red Cross in multiple recovery efforts. They recognize the need for assistance long after the catastrophic events that affect families throughout the region. Becky Ledford experienced losses through Rita and Ike, and recalls the American Red Cross providing hot meals and assistance long after all other organizations were gone. 

Mary Jane Mudd, of the American Red Cross, notes that “volunteering is very personal for Becky,” having experienced not only loss but the real hands on help from the organization., Ledford was inspired to begin volunteering just like her sister, Tina Wise. Both women put in hours helping where they can, and consider it important to not only help those in need, but to help make sure the volunteers themselves are well cared for. Ledford, who works in the healthcare industry, often finds herself tending to volunteers to ensure they have eaten and are hydrated, and looking after their own health as well.

Both women would like to encourage others to get involved. According to Mudd,  both “Tina and Becky are known throughout the Southeast and Deep East Chapter of the American Red Cross for their compassion and dedication to helping others.”  Ledford suggests, “We are a community. We need to work together to stay strong, now and throughout the year. The need is ongoing and the work is rewarding. I hope citizens right here in Orange and surrounding counties will join us and be Red Cross volunteers.”

When a tragic event occurs, there is always an immediate need for volunteers for food, shelter, and clean up. But even weeks after the event, volunteers are still needed, and many provide hygiene kits, continue providing food, and even clean up kits for flood victims. As many people in Southeast Texas communities know all too well, the recovery takes a long time and great effort, and no one can do it alone.

Becky Ledford and Tina Wise hope to inspire and encourage their fellow community members to get involved.  To see their story, visit “Sisters Give Back” on YouTube. If you would like to join Becky and Tina in their efforts and help your community and others in need by becoming a volunteer, visit redcross.org.