It is a traumatic time here in the British Virgin Islands. Hurricane Irma is continuing a path of destruction that brought the eye of the storm to Necker Island, Moskito Island and the whole surrounding area.
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. Our thoughts go out to everyone affected by the disaster elsewhere in the BVI, Caribbean and beyond.
I have never seen anything like this hurricane. Necker and the whole area have been completely and utterly devastated. We are still assessing the damage, but whole houses and trees have disappeared. Outside of the bunker, bathroom and bedroom doors and windows have flown 40 feet away. I’m speaking these words from a satellite phone that is just about working, but all other communications are down.
For those who are still in the path of Hurricane Irma, and Hurricane Jose to come, I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to put safety first and prepare as strongly as possible. Having seen first-hand the power of this storm, please ensure you stay inside, ideally in organised shelters or other solid concrete structures with water, supplies and emergency contact plans.
Sadly, casualties are being reported elsewhere in the Caribbean, along with horrific damage that is causing so much misery for the region’s wonderful communities. If you are in the BVI please let people know you are ok on FaceBook Safety Check. DDM and the Governor's Team are monitoring. Already we are hearing inspiring stories of extraordinary people helping each other to get through this awful situation. But the BVI is going to need major help to rebuild people’s homes, buildings, livelihoods.
We will do whatever we can to support and assist our local community through this extremely testing time. If our really strong buildings sustained such damage, I am so worried for elsewhere in the BVI and Caribbean. Virgin Atlantic’s Antigua flight today was loaded with essential items to help the recovery effort, including blankets and bottled water, and we’ve helped ensure disaster management relief personnel can get to where they’re most needed.
Virgin Unite has made a donation to the British Red Cross to support the hurricane relief efforts, and we are awaiting more information about how else we can best support. I would urge everyone to donate to the British Red Cross through Virgin Money Giving (who are waiving their fees in support of the appeal) to help local communities. It is good to hear a British naval ship has been deployed with supplies and I would urge the government to send as much help as possible to support the British Virgin Islands.
I know we are fortunate here on Necker and Moskito. Our wonderful team are fine. I know we will all band together and rebuild the islands to become stronger and even more wonderful than they were before.
Thanks so much to everyone who has sent well wishes and support, it is greatly appreciated by all of the team.