Weather Channel responders help Peoria County

By Beau Ebenezer

May 4, 2013 Updated May 4, 2013 at 11:16 PM CDT

CHILLICOTHE Ill -- For Chillicothe resident, Kelli Evans, beginning the process of cleaning up her home was something she thought she would be doing alone.

Her house was cluttered with debris, mud, and water from the recent flood.

However, on Saturday morning, she found some unexpected helpers at her door.

"We had the plan to come down and start assessing the damage, getting all of the water out, and doing some cleanup of our own," said Evans. "They showed up and started talking to us. They offered their assistance, so we are really excited for that."

The First Response Team of America, led by founder Tad Agoglia, made a relief stop in Peoria County to help with clean-up that they are quite familiar with.

"They see us come in so quickly. Literally the water is still going down in some areas, and we are already here cleaning up," said Agoglia. "It gives them a boost. It gives them a little hope that things are going to get better, and they can get better. Progress is happening right before their very eyes."

Over the past 7 years, the First Response team has taken action after more than 50 large scale disasters, like Hurricane Katrina, Super Storm Sandy, and the Earthquake in Haiti.

Agoglia said their efforts are possible thanks to contributions from companies like Caterpillar and volunteer assistance from Lowe's Home Improvement stores.

"We gathered a bunch of volunteers from the Peoria store and the East Peoria store, said Lowe's assistant store manager," Doug Kern. "Some guys and ladies who are off-duty volunteered their time, efforts, and a lot of material to really come out and help the folks in this community."

What would normally take days or weeks to clear, volunteers were able to do in one morning for Evans.

"I find it completely astonishing that people who have lost everything are still thankful for the little things, for each other, and people coming to help them," said Agoglia.

Agoglia added that his team will be ready to help when the next disaster strikes in other regions.