British billionaire Richard Branson is on Necker Island, his private getaway in the British Virgin Islands, where he said he will ride out Hurricane Irma over the coming days.
“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 said in a post on Virgin.com on Tuesday.
Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, bought Necker Island in the late 1970s and turned it into a private luxury resort. It has become famous for its many celebrity guests, including Kate Winslet, Harrison Ford, Mariah Carey, Mick Jagger, Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter, Princess Diana and many others. Former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle vacationed there earlier this year.
Branson said he’s worried about Hurricane Irma, which has now become a Category 5 hurricane with maximum winds of 175 miles per hour.
“Generally speaking, we have one hurricane in the British Virgin Islands around every 10 years. 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,” Branson said. “Obviously things can change – hopefully they do, as a category five hurricane hasn’t hit the BVI full on before.”
Branson urged residents of the British Virgin Islands to be prepared and take shelter.
“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 centres in Virgin Gorda),” he said. “Have a plan for where you can stay, have a go-bag with disaster supplies, and have a family emergency communication plan. Keep informed of the latest developments (we have been getting updates from the Government and BVI Tourist Board) and stay safe. Whatever happens, keep inside, away from the ocean and away from flying debris.”