Business mogul Richard Branson has pledged to aid the recovery of the Caribbean islands devastated by Hurricane Irma, sharing photos of the damage his own island suffered to show the storm’s severity.
Branson 67, released images depicting the toll the hurricane had on Necker Island on his personal blog and social media platforms, writing: “We have seen first-hand just how ferocious and unforgiving this storm has been.”
Pictures of the storm’s aftermath showed Branson’s luxurious island had largely been demolished.
“As you can see from the photos, much of the buildings and vegetation on Necker had been destroyed or badly damaged,” the owner of Virgin Atlantic wrote.
Branson remained on his island during the hurricane, spending the worst of the storm in his wine cellar.
“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,” he wrote.
After the storm, Branson traveled to Puerto Rico, where he said he went “to further mobilize aid efforts and rebuilding plans for the British Virgin Island and wider Caribbean.”
Branson said that after meeting with various governments, aid agencies and the media, he planned to travel back to the British Virgin Islands to continue helping with on-the-ground efforts.
He stressed that unlike other areas devastated by the hurricane, the Virgin Islands are isolated and all are suffering in the aftermath of the storm.
“Every island has been devastated, so there is no support to come from nearby,” he wrote. “We must get more help to the islands to rebuild homes and infrastructure and restore power, clean water and food supplies. Everyone is coming together to help and support one another. However, the BVI needs an enormous amount of help to recover from the widespread devastation
Branson thanked supporters, saying he has been overwhelmed with the sheer number of messages he has received so far.
“I’ve lived in the BVI for a long time and I know this wonderful part of the world and its amazing people will bounce back stronger than ever,” he concluded. “Thank you for your continuing support, it means the world to us.”