Have the lessons taught by recent floods on the Mississippi River system been learned? The new (1994) law relating to flood insurance has not changed coverage purchased in areas flooded in 1996 and 1997. Obviously, floodplain residents continue to rely, as in the past, on "relief" as their "insurance" against floods and other hazards. Changes in the crop insurance laws in 1994 have led to increased purchases with less reliance on relief payments for flooding. Participation by at-risk populations will determine the extent to which future floods (certain to occur) will be damaging. Hopefully, the public will assume more responsibility for their actions.

Will changing government policies relating to reducing federal expenditures and focusing on more responsibility in the states and private sector help or hurt flood mitigation? In an era when cutting back government spending seems to be what the voter sees as prudent fiscal policy, are the cutbacks going to reduce investments in flood mitigation measures that may save inhabitants of the Mississippi River system substantial losses in the longer term? The resolution of this issue depends on public involvement and political wisdom and will. It remains to be seen whether government and the general populace will act on the lessons learned by the recent severe floods.

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