Richard Branson has given a first-person account of the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma, saying the 185mph storm has sent doors and windows “flying 40 feet away”.
In an emotional message, the billionaire Virgin boss describes how his luxurious Necker Island home has been “completely and utterly devastated” by the hurricane.
Mr Branson, who spoke the words to Virgin colleagues via a satellite phone said:
“It is a traumatic time here in the British Virgin Islands,”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. Outside of the bunker, bathroom and bedroom doors and windows have flown 40 feet away. I’m speaking these words from a satellite phone that is just about working, but all other communications are down.
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.
Mr Branson, who bunkered down in a concrete wine cellar with family and friends, confirms that all of the team on Necker and Moskito Island 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,” he says. “Our thoughts go out to everyone affected by the disaster elsewhere in the BVI, Caribbean and beyond.”
Mr Branson’s account was posted on Virgin’s website.