Paradise lost: Richard Branson’s Caribbean island destroyed by Hurricane Irma

Caity Stone

Billionaire Richard Branson has taken to social media to reveal the devastation that Hurricane Irma has unleashed on his private island.

Images of the once idyllic Necker Island show the aftermath of the huge hurricane, including fallen trees and many buildings reduced to mere rubble.

The Virgin boss said his private Caribbean island had been “completely and utterly devastated” by the hurricane which passed over the British Virgin Islands with winds of up to 110 miles per hour (177kph).

The English business magnate wrote in a blog post for Virgin on his satellite phone, saying he had “never seen anything like” Hurricane Irma and added that it was a “traumatic time” on the island.

Branson explained that while the extent of the damage still needed to be assessed, “whole houses and trees have disappeared” and “bathroom and bedroom doors and windows have flown 40 feet away.”

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.”

"All of the team who stayed on Necker and Moskito during the hurricane are safe and well. We took shelter from the strongest hurricane ever inside the concrete cellar on Necker and very, very fortunately it held firm," the billionaire wrote.


Since purchasing the 74-acre Caribbean island nearly four decades ago around US$180,000 the billionaire makes a habit of staying put through hurricanes.

In the past 30 years, there have been three and Branson says he has stayed on Necker Island each time.

According to Forbes Branson is the 324th wealthiest person in the world with his net worth believed to be around $5 billion.


Irma's path of destruction

Meanwhile two police officers have been killed in a head on collision while three million homes are without power after Hurricane Irma struck Florida earlier than expected.

Hardee County Sheriff’s deputy Julie Ann Bridges was picking up supplies for a hurricane shelter when her patrol car collided with Patrol Sergeant Joseph Ossman's vehicle as he was reporting for his shift.

Waves of up to 11 metres smashed businesses along Havana's seaside drive in the wake of Hurricane Irma, pummeling famous hotels such as the Copacabana and flooding neighbourhoods.

All of southern Florida was feeling the storm's effects on Sunday afternoon, with a woman forced to deliver her own baby and trees and apartment towers swaying dangerously in high winds.

Eleven metre waves smashed the Miami foreshore. Source: Getty
Palm trees were ripped from the ground. Source: Getty

The hurricane was downgraded to a Category 2 storm, losing its major hurricane status after making landfall in the state's southwest.

Irma had been one of the most powerful hurricanes ever seen in the Atlantic, killing 28 people in the Caribbean.

Some 6.5 million people, about a third of the state's population, had been ordered to evacuate southern Florida.

Irma is expected to cause billions of dollars in damage.