Richard Branson wreck to his Necker Island home in the wake of hurricane Irma
British billionaire Richard Branson has revealed devastation to his luxurious Necker Island home in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
The 67-year-old locked himself in his wine cellar as the hurricane, the most powerful to have ever hit the Atlantic, started raging outside on Wednesday.
The tycoon has now travelled to Puerto Rico where he is helping coordinate the effort to deliver aid and a rebuilding plan for the British Virgin Islands.
Sir Richard Branson says most of the buildings and vegetation on Necker, his Caribbean island, have been destroyed or badly damaged by Hurricane Irma.
Much of the buildings and vegetation on Necker has been destroyed or badly damaged. But British Virgin Islands Hurricane #Irma story is not about Necker – it is about the tens of thousands of people who have lost their homes and their livelihoods. @virginunite is coordinating aid to local BVI families & communities affected – please donate to help http://www.virgin.com/unite/bvi-community-support-appeal
Hurricane Irma passed through the British Virgin Islands in the middle of last week.
Virgin Group founder Richard Branson gave an on the grounds look at the destruction Hurricane Irma has caused to Necker Island his private island and resort in the British Virgin Islands.
We are using our foundation @virginunite to coordinate raising money for longer-term reconstruction projects. Virgin Unite is also working with @unitebvi and @virginlimitededition to support the local BVI communities. They will be working with local organisations to identify the ongoing needs of affected individuals, families and communities affected by this disaster. We will support the mid to long term efforts on the ground and help provide support as those affected recover from the disaster. Please donate what you can http://virg.in/oxN
A post shared by Richard Branson (@richardbranson) on
Necker is among the 50 British Virgin Islands (BVI). Sir Richard says he has visited the nearest ones to Necker and has seen “first-hand how ferocious and unforgiving this storm was”.
The hurricane killed five people in the territory and the BVI’s premier has asked the UK to give long-term support.
Sir Richard and his team are safe.
Branson wrote “The boats are piled up like matchsticks in the harbour. Huge cargo ships were thrown out of the water and into rocks. Resorts have been decimated. The houses have their roofs blown off even some churches where people sheltered have lost roofs.”
He said: “We felt the full force of the strongest hurricane ever in the Atlantic Ocean. But we are very fortunate to have a strong cellar built into Necker’s Great House and were very lucky all of our teams who stayed on Island during the storm are safe and well.”
In a series tweets over the weekend, the Virgin founder showed the destruction felt by Necker Island and other surrounding British Virgin Islands when the category 5 storm hit last week.
He said the “story is about the tens of thousands of people who have lost their homes and their livelihoods”.
— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) September 10, 2017
On neighbouring Virgin Gorda, photos of the damage were more pronounced. In a blog post published Friday, Branson said resorts had been “decimated.”
— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) September 8, 2017
Communications are mostly still down in the British Virgin Islands and Sir Richard is currently in Puerto Rico, a few kilometres to the west of the islands.
However, he called on U.S. and U.K. governments to step up their support.
He said he was there “to further mobilise aid efforts and rebuilding plans for the British Virgin Islands and wider Caribbean”.
Sir Richard said he would be talking to various governments and aid agencies as well as the media, and would be heading straight back to the British Virgin Islands to continue helping the recovery effort on the ground.
The British Virgin Islands is a self-governing British overseas territory with the Queen as its head of state.
The British Virgin Islands’ premier, Orlando Smith, said they would need long-term help from the UK: “We are a resilient people but this has shaken us to our core.”
The UK has sent military planes, and on Sunday the Royal Navy said locals had helped a helicopter crew unload medical supplies, including vaccines.