LONDON – Britain announced emergency funding Thursday to cope with devastating floods after what officials said had been likely the worst spell of winter rainfall in at least 248 years. Prime Minister David Cameron’s government has faced criticism for its handling of a crisis that has left swathes of the country under water, with a key railway line washed away. Several people had to be rescued from deluged homes on Thursday while more storms are expected this weekend. Across the English Channel, France’s western tip was placed on alert for flooding as high tides wreaked havoc along Europe’s Atlantic coast. Pickles said the winter was the “wettest since George III was on the throne,” referring to Britain’s monarch from 1760-1820. He added that flood victims have “literally been through hell and high water.” Britain’s Meterological Office released figures confirming Pickles’ assessment. For southern England, “regional statistics suggest that this is one of, if not the most, exceptional periods of winter rainfall in at least 248 years,” it said in a statement. Parts of the region received five months of rainfall between December 12 and January 31. The rainy winter has set records tumbling, being the wettest combined period of December and January across the United Kingdom since 1910, the Met Office said. It was also the windiest December since 1969, based on the occurrence of winds over 69 mph. For England alone it was the wettest December to January since 1876-1877 and the second wettest since rainfall records began in 1766.
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