The destruction to the Caribbean caused by Hurricane Irma is nothing short of catastrophic. Damage caused by the massive storm will cost an estimated $300 million to repair the tiny islands of Barbuda and Antigua alone.
“It’s just carnage here,” Freeman Rogers, editor of the BVI Beacon, told The Washington Post.
Richard Branson, whose private island was severely damaged by the storm, wants to help.
“I am heading back to the British Virgin Islands from Puerto Rico to assess the situation on the ground, help mobilise support, meet with officials and distribute aid,” Branson wrote in a new blog update.
Branson, who rode out Hurricane Irma in the wine cellar on his private island alongside his staff, has been a constant presence in relief efforts over the last few days.
Immediately after the hurricane, Branson updated his blog and social media accounts asking his friends and followers to donate what they could to assist in the aftermath of the storm that killed at least 34 people.
Now, in his latest update Branson shared that he’s actively meeting with leadership in the area, including Deputy Prime Minister Pickering, BVI Governor Gus Jaspert, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and with the Puerto Rican government to figure out who can help where and how.
“More can be done,” he wrote, “but we are trying as hard as possible to get as much food, water and aid in as possible.”
Beyond the need for food and water, Branson wrote in a separate post that the islands are also in need of order.
“There are worrying reports of civil unrest spreading – I urge everybody to stay safe, remain calm and support each other,” Branson shared. To fix the islands and bring order once again Branson suggested the islands need a “Marshall Plan.”
“The region needs a ‘Disaster Recovery Marshall Plan’ for the BVI and other territories that will aid in recovery, sustainable reconstruction and long-term revitalisation of the local economy,” Branson wrote. “This will have to include building resilience against what is likely to be a higher intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, as the effects of climate change continue to grow.”
For now, all the rest of the world can do is sit, watch and donate to recovery efforts. As Branson shared, the best way to help the islands is to to donate to the British Red Cross through Virgin Money Giving.