The floods in Punjab and Haryana are probably the worst since 1988. That does not, however, mean that there have been no floods since 1988. Every year, the Ghaggar river swells up and the waters breach its banks, submerging homes, affecting livelihoods, and, in some cases, causing deaths. This year, the death toll is close to 36. So far.
The floods haven’t caught the states unawares. It is just that their governments have chosen to do nothing about it. The Ghaggar, interestingly, is a river that dries up when it is not raining. Repairing the banks is easy at such times.