News Latin America

Sunday 22 October 2017

Branson calls for 'Marshall Plan' to help islands bounce back from the devastation

Richard Branson among the debris on his private island. Photo: Virgin.com/PA Wire
Richard Branson among the debris on his private island. Photo: Virgin.com/PA Wire

Neil Lancefield

Richard Branson has shared photographs and video showing the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma on his private island Necker.

The billionaire businessman was pictured in front of torn-down buildings and uprooted trees.

In a blog post, the Virgin founder wrote: "As you can see from the photos, much of the buildings and vegetation on Necker has been destroyed or badly damaged.

"We felt the full force of the strongest hurricane ever in the Atlantic Ocean. But we are very fortunate to have a strong cellar built into Necker's Great House and were very lucky all of our teams who stayed on [the] island during the storm are safe and well.

"This story is about the tens of thousands of people who have lost their homes and their livelihoods."

Branson was writing from Puerto Rico, where he said he is mobilising aid efforts and rebuilding plans for the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and the wider Caribbean.

Supplies

He said he has spent the past two days visiting staff who live on Virgin Gorda and "as many people as possible" to distribute aid, water and supplies.

Read more: Irish families take shelter from storm in baths and closets

"We have seen first-hand just how ferocious and unforgiving this storm was," he said.

The entrepreneur said the British government has a "massive role to play in the recovery of its territories" through short-term aid and long-term infrastructure spending.

He compared the situation to the US giving funding to western Europe for rebuilding after World War II, calling for a "Disaster Recovery Marshall Plan".

Branson signed off his update by saying he has been "overwhelmed by the messages of support sent to those across the region and to myself".

He added: "I've lived in the BVI for a long time and I know this wonderful part of the world and its amazing people will bounce back stronger than ever. Thank you for your continuing support, it means the world to us."

Irish Independent

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