- Virgin Group
According to a Virgin Group representative – and now confirmed by Branson – Necker Island has been severely damaged by Irma.
In a blog post on Virgin’s website published Thursday, Branson recounted the devastation the Category 5 hurricane has caused in the Caribbean.
“It is a traumatic time here in the British Virgin Islands,” he wrote. “Hurricane Irma is continuing a path of destruction that brought the eye of the storm to Necker Island, Moskito Island, and the whole surrounding area.”
He continued: “I have never seen anything like this hurricane. Necker and the whole area have been completely and utterly devastated. We are still assessing the damage, but whole houses and trees have disappeared.”
The doors and windows outside of the wine cellar where Branson and his team sought shelter had flown 40 feet away, he said.
- Google Maps/Screengrab
According to Branson, all local communications networks are down. He said his blog post was dictated through a satellite phone.
The intrepid billionaire expressed his sympathy for his fellow islanders whose lives have been destroyed by Irma. He also urged anyone in the path of the storm to take shelter immediately:
“All of the team who stayed on Necker and Moskito during the hurricane are safe and well. We took shelter from the strongest hurricane ever inside the concrete cellar on Necker and very, very fortunately it held firm. Our thoughts go out to everyone affected by the disaster elsewhere in the BVI, Caribbean and beyond.
“For those who are still in the path of Hurricane Irma, and Hurricane Jose to come, I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to put safety first and prepare as strongly as possible. Having seen first-hand the power of this storm, please ensure you stay inside, ideally in organised shelters or other solid concrete structures with water, supplies and emergency contact plans.”
- Virgin Limited
Like much of the Caribbean, Necker Island faces a long rebuilding process – one that Branson promises will result in something “even more wonderful” than before.
“I know we are fortunate here on Necker and Moskito,” he wrote. “Our wonderful team are fine. I know we will all band together and rebuild the islands to become stronger and even more wonderful than they were before.”
Hurricane Irma has wreaked havoc in the Caribbean. The Category 5 hurricane made landfall early Wednesday in the Leeward Islands and has since left a path of destruction in Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Martin, and Montserrat, among other islands.