Published On: Thu, Sep 7th, 2017

Richard Branson Rides Out Irma in Wine Cellar

PHOTO: Richard Branson’s Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands (photo via Flickr/Kansasphoto)

Where would you go if you were facing a Category 5 hurricane on your private island?

The wine cellar, of course. 

That’s exactly what Richard Branson did on Necker Island as he faced down a direct hit from Hurricane Irma. 

The Category 5 storm barreled through the Virgin Islands last night and, according to a blog post from Branson, the billionaire planned to ride out the storm on the island as he has done three other times.

“We had some lovely guests staying on Necker Island who have cut their trip short for safety reasons and another group of guests have also postponed. I will be on Necker alongside our team, as I have been on the three times we have had hurricanes over the past 30 years,” Branson wrote. 

Branson noted that his concern was for the people of the British Virgin Islands and the Caribbean as a whole, pleading with people to take shelter. 

“For anyone who could be affected by the hurricane, please make sure you are as prepared as possible. In the past, many British Virgin Islanders have shrugged off hurricanes, stayed at home and not gone to shelters. This time the BVI Government and the BVI Tourist board have been very active and providing advice to the local population.

“With the likelihood of a Category 5 hurricane, it is really important people go to hurricane shelters if possible (such as the Methodist Church and public community centers in Virgin Gorda),” Branson advised, (a sentiment that rings true for all in the vicinity of Irma as the storm races toward the U.S.).

Branson also expressed concern for the animals and wildlife on the islands. 

“I am also concerned for the wonderful wildlife of the BVI, not least on Necker and Moskito, where many flamingos, lemurs, scarlet ibis and other stunning species live. Hopefully, all people and animals can keep out of harm’s way in the coming days,” he said. 

READ MORE: Hurricane Irma on Collision Course with US 

According to the Washington Post, Branson and his team weathered the storm safely in the wine cellar. Branson made light of the situation in a tweet, saying: “I haven’t had a sleepover quite like this since I was a kid.” 

However, despite well-constructed, almost hurricane-proof construction, the island did sustain heavy damage, according to a statement on Virgin Limited Edition

“We are deeply saddened by the events that have taken place in the last 24 hours and our hearts and thoughts are with our friends and family in the Caribbean. We are very grateful to be able to report that all of our team on Island have been accounted for as safe as well. Necker Island felt the effects of Hurricane Irma and sustained extensive damage, the extent of which we are still assessing.

“We’d like to thank all of you for your thoughts and would like to assure you that we will be keeping you along, with our family and friends, updated this week as we know more. We will do whatever we can to support and assist our local community through this extremely testing time.”

The statement was released just a few hours after the hurricane passed the island and further updates will be forthcoming.

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