At sunrise, Hurricane Irma pounded two billionaires’ private island in the British Virgin Islands. They own the little, tiny island at the northern end of Virgin Gorda Island. It is a tiny dot on the map but does have some elevation, it isn’t all sea level. So I am assuming that Branson isn’t drowning from surges but he is probably not alive or is suffering badly after deciding to stay for the 185+ mph sustained winds. His giant houses there are very flimsy and prone to burn down due to bad construction choices and heedlessness about nature. A previous tropical storm destroyed half of his buildings there just six years ago.
This island has never been inhabited due to it being an uninhabitable place. It has no natural water and no sheltered harbor. A previous millionaire owned it but it was being seized by the government when Branson bought it at a fire sale for ‘cheap’. He had to develop it as a ‘resort’ and so he built one that only billionaires could ‘rent’.
Since most of them are buddies and this includes Obama and the Royals, they actually pay nothing.
I saw from photos that this island at the west end is about 15-20′ above low tide which is little but maybe enough to avoid total pounding by surf in a normal hurricane.
This is the ‘sheltered’ side of the island but nothing is ‘shelter’ in this mega hurricane. Since all the buildings are on crags or high ground, they are very exposed to high winds raking the island. On top of that, these buildings are very open and flimsy.
The island is available for weddings, relaxation breaks, sports vacations and even complete rentals for any purpose. One of the high profile recent guests is Larry Page, Google’s billionaire co-founder, who married his girlfriend, Lucy Southworth, on the island in early December 2007. Page rented a majority of Virgin Gorda as well, as Necker was far too small to fit his 600+ guest party.
He was ‘stunned by the view’ but what this means usually is, the observation point is dangerous in bad weather/volcanic eruptions/landslides/forest fires etc. Beauty is where destruction lurks nearby. Below is a helicopter shot of the mansion. Note the coconut frond roof:
In the early hours of Monday, August 22, 2011, The Great House, as it was called, burned down in a fire believed to be caused by lightning from Tropical Storm Irene. The house was occupied at the time by as many as 20 guests, with Branson himself staying in a residence nearby. All 20 of the guests escaped unhurt from the burning house, which was said to have been totally destroyed, according to Branson. Among the 20 occupants were actress Kate Winslet, along with Sir Richard’s 90-year-old mother Eve and his 29-year-old daughter Holly, when the blaze broke out in the early hours of the morning.
Two years later, Branson has announced the extensive restructure of the house is almost complete and will soon be available for exclusive hire once again – for a staggering £40,000 per night.
So this new structure which is being systematically turned into 3″x 1″ slivers is only three years or so old. Branson and his rich buddy can afford to rebuild every time a hurricane shows up but I think Branson won’t be rebuilding this time around, not being around, himself.
Note the straw roof. Yes, Obama freeloaded there after the election. Readers here can insert comments about this, yourselves. Below is a billionaire’s hideaway on another of the Virgin Island resorts:
The reason this is all news to me is due to the hubris factor of Branson thinking he can defy Mother Nature when she has a major snit. The gods are greatly amused by ‘hubris’ from mere humans.
On the other victims: this is terrible suffering. The wind speed of the gusts in this hurricane are over 210 miles per hour which is tornado speed. I seriously doubt anyone has ‘tornado proof’ shelters anywhere on any of these islands which is why so many of these islands were very sparsely occupied or not occupied at all when Columbus stumbled into them 400 years ago.