By Craig Day, News On 6
UNDATED - Tad Agoglia was among the first to arrive in the aftermath of floods, hurricanes and the deadly tornado in Picher. He's already in the Top 10. But now he's in the running to become the top Hero of the World.
The past year and a half has been an incredible challenge for Agoglia. The founder of First Response Team of America and his five man crew have responded to 20 of the largest storms in the U.S.
"Our main focus is that first few critical weeks to provide the equipment and resources that are needed to establish order, and perform rescue operations and basically jumpstart the community again," said Agoglia.
Whether it's flooding, hurricanes or tornados, the group responds to all kinds of weather related disasters, bringing in specialized heavy equipment along with a heart to serve others.
"We basically, literally, watch weather patterns all the time and we decide on our own if the storm was severe, and if it had a direct hit on a community, where there were people, and if so, we respond immediately. Within 30 minutes we leave," said Agoglia.
That includes work in Picher after a powerful tornado leveled the town. In Oklahoma, the team opened up roads, supported firefighters and city leaders, and helped storm victims.
"A lot of what we did in Picher was simply help people remove large objects so that they could find belongings," said Agoglia.
All the work is done for free and is funded through Agoglia's crane business and his own savings.
It led to a nomination for CNN's 2008 Heroes of the World and Agoglia made the top 10.
Viewers can vote with the winner being announced on Thanksgiving.
"A very important message is if the people of Oklahoma appreciated what we've done here, by showing their support, we're actually going to be able to help more communities in America," said Agoglia.
Agoglia says he's motivated because he believes the team can make a difference for thousands of people in desperate need of help.
"I think for me, I'm constantly reminded from people all over the country of really what matters in life," said Agoglia.
The winner gets a $100,000 prize, which Agoglia says would be enough to pay for expenses for two months during the 2009 tornado season.
You can vote for Tad as the top hero of the year, click here.