Sad but incredibly inspiring

Richard Branson may be a British billionaire, but his sleeves are fully rolled up as he and his family are on the ground providing support for the Caribbean. After a week in the British Virgin Islands, his son Sam shares the devastation on the ground in this report.

“It’s really hard to explain in words… you can’t explain it in words – you have to see it to believe it. It’s like a bomb has gone off. The BVI has gone from an idyllic gem of the world to a humanitarian disaster zone. Everything is destroyed.

“One of the marines who has been deployed in war zones told me he has still never seen anything like this: “Unlike war zones where certain areas are affected, here, every single inch of the country has been decimated.”

“It’s just unbelievable to see, Hog Heaven (restaurant on Virgin Gorda) is now on Mosquito Island. There’s an 180,000 ton ship on the side of the hill, and the land has not one leaf left – most of the trees have been ripped out of the ground.

“Dad’s being positive and strong, but the BVI is his home and has been turned to rubble. He’s been working tirelessly to help people on the ground and mobilise people back home to ensure long-term plans to rebuild the homes of the community are in motion.

“The people of Virgin Gorda are struggling to survive. They are the most inspiring people in the whole world. It’s so difficult – they have absolutely nothing. They need essentials to survive: torches, tarpaulin, food and water. Everyone is exhausted.

“However, the spirit on Virgin Gorda is incredible. It’s really sad but it’s incredibly inspiring. Most are still managing to smile even though their children are being evacuated without them and all their belongings are strewn for miles.

MORE: Richard Branson discusses Hurricane Irma’s impact on the BVI and what now needs to happen in this video… click here.

UPDATE (September 18, 2017) – Hurricane Maria, the latest threat to the Caribbean, became a Category 4 storm this afternoon as it barreled toward Dominica in the Caribbean’s Leeward Islands and took aim for the US territory of Puerto Rico. It will be unlike anything Puerto Rico has “ever seen before,” said Gov. Ricardo Rosselló.

“The eye and the intense inner core is expected to pass near Dominica during the next few hours,” the National Hurricane Center said in its 5 p.m. advisory. “Maria is likely to affect Puerto Rico as an extremely dangerous major hurricane, and a hurricane warning has been issued for that island.”

Maria packed sustained winds of 130 mph (215 kilometers per hour), bringing the chance of life-threatening storm surge, the advisory said, accompanied by “large and destructive waves,” and “hitting the Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.”

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