James Trebedeau and his wife Linda built their dream home along the Fox River in Brookfield two years ago. Now, they stand a few hundred yards from the home as a cleaning crew pulls out their furniture, paintings, rare Ming Dynasty vases, and various other items from the sprawling ranch. To James, it’s not enough that nobody was not hurt.
“I worked hard for the items with which I furnished my home,” said the lawyer. “We lost everything, and all the news keeps saying is that people have been lucky to survive. What a load of crap!”
Linda, a doctor who works in Milwaukee, added, “We’ve never done anything to deserve this. It’s not like we live in some project on Hampton in the core and expect raw sewerage in our house. We’re not dealing drugs here or stealing from others, so why are we having to live with my sister in Sussex?” Linda says that they cannot estimate the value of the items lost to the rising waters, and she was disgusted by the lackluster efforts of hired workers to save their possessions. “One little Mexican fellow waded in and pulled out an unframed Vitold oil painting with his greasy bare hands. And he acted like he was doing us a favor!”
James was also disappointed with the relief efforts of various organizations. “The Red Cross offered us sandwiches on week-old white bread. Like something one of the workers pulled out of a metal lunch pail from the back of his pickup. And water… if I wanted water, I’d walk into my den with a Laliques decanter and scoop some up. I needed a real drink to deal with the carnage, not plastic-bottled city water.”
The Trebedeaus built their home on an area once zoned as a wildlife refuge and natural flood plain, but reclaimed by Brookfield for expansion. “We bought the lot because it was on the other side of the river from the seedy townhouses going up, and it allowed us a beautiful view of the river and many of the mature trees left over after the land was flattened for development,” said James. “The only annoying thing about living here, until my home was decimated, was all the toads I run over with my Escalade. It’s a very peaceful location.”
All the Trebedeaus can do now is hope for the water to recede and for some sort of Federal aide to help them rebuild. “I pay more in taxes than the average American earns in a year, and I expect to have a brand new home by this time next year,” said the lawyer. “And, no, it’s not enough that everyone’s safe. Brookfield owes me for allowing me to build here. The builder owes me for not building my house high enough to avoid flood waters. The companies who produced the pumps and sandbags owe me because their products did not perform up to spec. GM owes me because that piece of junk Escalade crapped out on me on River Rd. while I was going to hire some help—if a top-of-the-line SUV cannot go through a few feet of water without stalling, it might as well be Kia Sedona. And finally, the salvage company I hired owes be big for mishandling our goods while pulling them out of the water. All in all, we deserve much better than this, and even if nobody is hurt right now, someone will lose his meager livelihood because of this.”