The diverse causes and styles, the frequency and the losses arising from five Australian floods in 1998 are reviewed in this paper. Though mostly rare, the floods were not as unprecedented as commonly supposed. Damages to agriculture and infrastructure were significant, and probably over 10,000 houses experienced over-floor inundation. Key lessons include: the need for detailed damage assessments as a basis for damage reduction, the need to maximise safety and minimise property exposure at caravan parks, and the need for floodplain management strategies that better address both existing and future risk. A greater recognition of the distinctive nature of each flood event is required for the improvement of official and unofficial flood warning systems. Educators need to address the dynamic nature of flood awareness, as it declines over time, and as it varies from one individual to the next. Insurers need to adopt incentives for risk-reducing behaviour, so that efforts to mitigate damages are encouraged, not undermined.
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