A recent extreme weather event in the UK that I have studied is the 2014 flooding of the Somerset Levels in the South West of England.
The social effects included the flooding of over 600 houses and the evacuation of 16 farms. Villages, such as Borrowbridge, were cut off, and power supplies, roads, and railways were also affected. The Bristol to Taunton line was closed at Bridgwater for instance.
14 000 hectares of farmland were flooded and around 1000 livestock had to be evacuated. All of this caused disruption to the usual economic activities of going to work and shopping, having a knock-on impact on the regional economy. In addition, the evacuations and clean-up work cost an estimated £10million, just in the short term. A further £20million action plan was later launched by Somerset council and the Environment Agency.
These socio-economic impacts were doubtless very important to the people affected at the time; for example, some of the evacuated residents were still living in temporary accommodation several months after the event. The economic impact will have been felt by the individuals involved as well as the taxpayer, local businesses and the local authorities.
The environmental impacts were even worse though; an enormous volume of debris dumped by the floodwaters had to be cleaned up and stagnant waters had to be re-oxygenated before being pumped back into rivers. However, I think the worse impact of all was the contamination of all flooded areas by oil, agricultural chemicals, livestock effluent, and human sewage. I think that this is the worst impact because of its potential for causing harm to humans and other animals.
In conclusion, I think that the socio-economic and environmental effects of this flood were both important but that the environmental effect was more important, because of the potential to cause harm.