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Branson shows what Hurricane Irma did to his island home

CNBC logo CNBC 9/11/2017 Karen Gilchrist
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The billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson has revealed photos of the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Irma on his private island in the Caribbean.

In a series tweets over the weekend, the Virgin founder showed the destruction felt by Necker Island and other surrounding British Virgin Islands when the category 5 storm hit last week.

Describing the damage to his luxury resort as "huge", the images depict fallen palm trees, exposed buildings and destroyed furniture.

On neighbouring Virgin Gorda, photos of the damage were more pronounced. In a blog post published Friday, Branson said resorts had been "decimated."

"The boats are piled up like matchsticks in the harbour. Huge cargo ships were thrown out of the water and into rocks. Resorts have been decimated. The houses have their roofs blown off; even some churches where people sheltered have lost roofs," Branson wrote.

The businessman holed himself up in a wine cellar with his family and members of his team as Hurricane Irma hit Necker Island late last week. His son Sam wrote in an Instagram post shortly afterwards that everybody on the island had survived, though many of its buildings had been destroyed.

Branson has since remained in the Caribbean to assist with the relief effort, deploying his private yacht Necker Belle to carry supplies from Barbados to the worst-hit islands.

Demands on government

However, he called on U.S. and U.K. governments to step up their support.

"Governments – the UK 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.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday approved a major disaster declaration for Florida and ordered federal aid to help the state struck by Hurricane Irma. Meanwhile, the British government is to provide a £32 million ($42 million) relief fund and double public donations made to the Red Cross appeal. Yet both governments have faced criticism for not doing enough.

Branson added that the Hurricane points to the damaging effects of climate change, and said more must be done to prevent further similar disasters.

"Man-made climate change is contributing to increasingly strong hurricanes causing unprecedented damage. The whole world should be scrambling to get on top of the climate change issue before it is too late – for this generation, let alone the generations to come," said Branson.

Trump has famously denounced the notion of man-made climate change and in June 2017 pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement on climate change mitigation.


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