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Until the mid-twentieth century, the story of modern flood control was the transition from adaptation to the inevitable to an expectation that government would provide maximum flood prevention and generous post-disaster relief for floodplain dwellers. For the last sixty years or so, the story has been the growing recognition, especially as the understanding of climate change has increased, that the goal of maximum protection is unobtainable because flood damage is an inevitable risk that can only be managed, but never totally avoided. Thus, we are now making the transition to the idea that we must manage floodplains through a combination of structural defenses, upstream storage, and land-use controls.

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