Richard Branson retreats to wine cellar as Hurricane Irma hits Necker Island

Richard Branson retreats to wine cellar as Hurricane Irma hits Necker Island

Richard Branson retreats to wine cellar as Hurricane Irma hits Necker Island

British billionaire Richard Branson called for a new "Marshall Plan" to help the Caribbean islands recover from the destruction of Hurricane Irma.

The National Rifle Association is threatening legal action after the governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands on Tuesday authorized the government to seize personal guns and ammunition that could be utilized by authorities in response to Hurricane Irma. The island and its buildings, however, were not.

Barbuda and the British Virgin Islands have also been hit by the storm.

Branson says relief and rebuilding efforts will be a massive undertaking and will require a large workforce to get things going. Irma then passed over other islands, including St. Martin, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Cuba as the storm moved toward Florida. Branson is an investor in a number of Southern California technology companies, including Virgin Galactic and Ring.

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No tweets, no Instagrams, no updates on Branson's blog - nothing.

"The boats are piled up like matchsticks in the harbour".

That includes Richard Branson's private island. Under curfew restrictions, anyone without authorization should remain indoors to allow crews to clear roads and restore services without disruptions, he said.

But Branson said there needs to be a more mobilized effort to deal with the aftermath of hurricanes.

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"Governments - the United Kingdom in the British Virgin Islands, the US in the US Virgin Islands - need to do all they can to help people here who have lost their homes and in many cases will have lost their livelihoods after the storm", Branson wrote in his blog. But that wasn't the case for the surrounding area or the rest of 30ha Necker Island, his property for four decades.

Branson, who bought the island paradise when he was just 28-years-old, said he had "never seen anything like this hurricane".

Nasa Earth Observatory images show the U.S. and British Virgin Islands islands in August, top, and after Hurricane Irma. "We are still assessing the damage, but whole houses and trees have disappeared", he said.

Initially Branson, who sat out the vicious storm in his underground wine cellar with his guests and members of his team, wrote a blog post for Virgin earlier in the week, saying the buildings on Necker Island were "really strong" with hurricane blinds and "should be able to handle extreme weather pretty well".

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Branson is the 324th wealthiest person in the world, with a net worth of about $5 billion, according to Forbes, which notes that he bought Necker Island for $180,000 almost four decades ago. "Knowing our wonderful team as I do, I suspect there will be little wine left in the cellar when we all emerge".

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