Irma partially destroys Sir Richard Branson's Necker island as he found refuge in wine cellar

The billionaire rode out Irma while holed up in his wine cellar but his private island Necker was battered by the raging storm

Jeremy B. White
San Francisco
,Jeff Farrell
Thursday 07 September 2017 10:57
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Hurricane Irma batters St Martin, destroying live webcam feed

Sir Richard Branson’s private island Necker was partially destroyed by Hurricane Irma but the tycoon survived the storm holed up in his wine cellar.

The Virgin boss, several other house guests and members of staff, hunkered down in the basement area of his home rather than flee from incoming winds of up to 185mph.

After the worst of the devastating storm passed overnight it emerged that the billionaire and his clan remained unscathed – despite the physical damage it left in its wake.

His son Sam wrote on Instagram: “Glad to say that all humans on Necker are ok although a lot of buildings destroyed.

“Very concerned for our friends and everyone on the neighbouring islands and people in its path,” he added.

“Please don't take this hurricane lightly if it is heading your way. If your building is not very solid, do find somewhere safe! Homes can be rebuilt but lives can't.”

Hours before the storm, his father, Richard, revealed he and his family and guests had decided the wine cellar was the best option as the deadly storm whipped up.

“Experienced a night of howling wind and rain as #hurricaneirma edges closer. Expecting full force in about 4 hours, we'll retreat into a concrete wine cellar under the house,” he wrote on Instagram, “Wonderful team calm and upbeat.”

The tycoon also appeared to be enjoying himself ahead of the hurricane – a Category Five, which is one of the strongest storms ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean.

“The atmosphere is eerie but beautiful,” he wrote in a blog post.

"I suspect there will be little wine left in the cellar when we all emerge,” Mr Branson wrote.

About 100 people live and work on the billionaire’s private island. Private groups can pay up to $80,000 a night to stay on the outpost in the Caribbean.

Irma raged through the Atlantic Ocean on Wednesday and left a trail of devastation on the the islands of Barbuda, St Martin and Puerto Rico as it moved west with howling winds and rain.

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