He described the feeling on the island as “eerie but beautiful.”
Hurricane Irma, the strongest hurricane to ever to develop in the Atlantic, barrelled across the Caribbean on Wednesday with 185mph winds and the potential for devastating flooding.
While anyone who could evacuate has, Richard Branson decided instead to hunker down alongside the staff on his private Island to ride out the storm.
“Generally speaking, we have one hurricane in the British Virgin Islands around every 10 years,” the Virgin founder wrote in a blog post. “Fortunately, most of them drift north of us, but this one is coming straight for us, with the eye of the storm heading straight for Necker, Moskito Island and Virgin Gorda.”
“Obviously things can change – hopefully they do, as a category five hurricane hasn’t hit the BVI full on before.”
In a separate post Branson described the feeling on the island just before Irma hit as “eerie but beautiful.” He noted that the entire staff on Necker was “willing the eye of the storm to veer away from the BVI in these last few hours. As I wrote yesterday, our main concern is safety, for everyone here and for all the people in the BVI and in the path of the hurricane.”
Branson seemed calm when writing about the island’s sturdy construction, noting they had “really strong buildings (with hurricane blinds) that should be able to handle extreme weather pretty well, though with a Category 5 hurricane almost nothing can withstand it.”
Beyond showing his solidarity with the buildings on the island, Branson also went on to reveal that he will sleep alongside the staff in two of the island’s rooms.
“I haven't had a sleepover quite like it since I was a kid. Strangely, it's a privilege to experience what is turning into possibly the strongest storm ever with such a great group of young people,” he said. “We were listening to the parrots in their boxes in the next room chattering away. Watching the tortoises congregating together, as if they sense what is coming our way.”
In a more politically-minded paragraph, Branson wrote that he believes man-made climate change to be a “key factor in the increasing intensity of these hurricanes, as many experts have suggested.”
He noted that the extensive damage caused by Harvey all over Texas is a tragic and costly reminder that “our climate is changing and that we are not doing enough to tackle this enormous challenge. If Irma is any indication, we must brace ourselves for more of these catastrophic weather events. How much cheaper and smarter to support the Paris Agreement and move to clean energy?”
He then urged everyone in Irma’s path to read up on how to prepare for the worst at www.ready.gov/hurricanes and particularly for those in the British Virgin Islands to stay tuned to www.bvi.gov.vg for local updates.