Virgin boss Richard Branson has revealed the extent of damage to his private island in the Caribbean as he called for urgent government help for those in the Caribbean in desperate need after Hurricane Irma.
In a series of tweets and postings on Instagram, Mr Branson showed the extensive damage to Necker, his own island in the British Virgin Islands (BVI).
He also appealed to the British government to establish a “disaster recovery Marshall Plan” for the BVI and other Caribbean islands, a reference to the operation launched by the US to rebuild western Europe after World War II.
“The UK government will have a massive role to play in the recovery of its territories affected by Irma - both through short-term aid and long-term infrastructure spending,” he wrote.
“The region needs a ‘Disaster Recovery Marshall Plan’ for the BVI and other territories that will aid in recovery, sustainable reconstruction and long-term revitalisation of the local economy."
He added: “Our thoughts are with all the people and regions hit by Hurricane Irma, and all those in the US communities currently facing the storm.”
Mr Branson said he had spent the last two days visiting people on the island of Gorda and helping deliver emergency supplies. He has now travelled to Puerto Rico where has been talking to various government and aid agencies about how they can now help people - many of whom are in dire need.
The businessman saw out of the storm 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 that everyone on the island had survived.
“Communications in and out of the BVI are still mostly down, but we have a satellite phone working to share updates. Yesterday afternoon and today we have travelled to Virgin Gorda to try to do everything we can to help the community,” Mr Branson wrote in a blog posted over the weekend.
“The wonderful team have been going around to all of our team members on Virgin Gorda to check they are safe and well. There is a huge amount of damage to buildings, but fortunately everyone we have seen so far has been ok.”
He added: “The boats are piled up like match sticks 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. But the whole British Virgin Islands community is rallying round.”
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has defended the UK’s response to Hurricane Irma after it was described as “pitiful” by the parent of one British tourist trapped on the island of St Martin.
Geoffrey Scott Baker said his daughter, Amy Brown, had been ignored.
“Nothing is happening. It seems that everybody can airlift their citizens out except for the UK who are doing absolutely nothing on the ground,” he said.
But speaking on the BBC, Mr Johnson defended the government’s actions.
Mr Johnson said St Martin was controlled by the Dutch and French, who had been evacuating people in accordance with their medical need.
“Some British nationals actually have been evacuated from Saint Martin,” he said. “This is a very big consular crisis and I am confident we are doing everything we possibly can to help British nationals.”
Mr Johnson said that 50 police officers were flying to the UK’s overseas territories to help restore order. He said said things are improving in the BVI where 125 troops are helping to tackle looting.
Mr Johnson has said “further support” for British overseas territories hit by Irma would be announced within days. He said only £4m ($5.2m) remained of a £32m ($42m) relief fund.