Richard Branson refuses to leave his private island amid 'potentially catastrophic' Hurricane Irma

Sir richard branson on Necker IslandVirgin LimitedSir Richard Branson on Necker Island in 2014.

Sir Richard Branson announced on Tuesday that he plans to ride out Hurricane Irma on Necker Island.

The billionaire entrepreneur made the announcement in a blog post on Virgin Group’s website.

Branson’s private island, called Necker, is one of more than 50 islands that make up the British Virgin Islands. Necker is expected to take a direct hit from Irma, which is now a Category 5 hurricane with winds topping 185 mph. The National Hurricane Center called Irma “potentially catastrophic.”

“On Necker Island we have constructed 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,” Branson wrote. “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.”

According to Branson, the British Virgin Islands have been hit numerous times by hurricanes in the past, although they have been spared the worst.

In the post, the founder of Virgin Group urged the people of the British Virgin Islands to seek shelter and to not underestimate the destructive power of Irma.

In addition, Branson expressed his concern for the island’s wildlife.

“I am also concerned for the wonderful wildlife of the BVI, not least on Necker and Moskito, where many flamingos, lemurs, scarlet ibis and other stunning species live,” Branson wrote. “Hopefully all people and animals can keep out of harm’s way in the coming days.”

At the same time Branson also holds great respect for the power of hurricanes.

“It may sound strange, but I consider hurricanes one of the wonders of the natural world,” He wrote. “I beheld nature at its most ferocious. The power of the sea breaking over the cliff tops, the eerie hush when you are in the eye of the hurricane and then the roar of the winds, the lightning and the rain.”

To close out the post, the long-time environmentalist takes the opportunity to use Irma as a call for greater action on climate change.

Branson wrote:

“Man-made climate change is a key factor in the increasing intensity of these hurricanes, as many experts have suggested. The 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?”

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