Eccentric billionaire Richard Branson will tough out the worst of Hurricane Irma in his wine cellar as the storm churns its way through his Caribbean resort.
The category 5 hurricane — the strongest on record to form in the Atlantic Ocean — is slated to bring 185-mph winds to Branson’s Necker Island, which is among the British Virgin Islands (BVI).
“We have just experienced a night of howling wind and rain as Hurricane Irma edges ever closer towards us on Necker and the British Virgin Islands,” the 67-year-old billionaire wrote in a Wednesday morning blog post.
“The atmosphere is eerie but beautiful. Everyone is willing the eye of the storm to veer away from the BVI in these last few hours.”
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The storm started making landfall in the Caribbean early Wednesday. The virgin islands, Puerto Rico, Haiti and the Dominican Republic are slated to be hit later in the day.
Branson — who’s worth a reported $5 billion — posted photos of himself and his team playing games Tuesday night and cramming into tight sleeping quarters.
“All of us slept together in two rooms. I haven’t had a sleepover quite like it since I was a kid. Strangely, it’s a privilege to experience what is turning into possibly the strongest storm ever with such a great group of young people,” he wrote, detailing how they listened to parrots squawking in the next room.
When the going gets really tough on Wednesday, Branson plans to take refuge in a concrete wine cellar beneath his estate’s main house.
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“Knowing our wonderful team as I do, I suspect there will be little wine left in the cellar when we all emerge,” he said.
The Virgin companies founder previously announced he planned to stay on the island — just like he had for Hurricanes Earl and Otto.
He said the resort’s “really strong” buildings with hurricane blinds on the 74-acre island should withstand the looming storm. Despite his assurances, many guests chose to leave.
“We had some lovely guests staying on Necker Island who have cut their trip short for safety reasons, and another group of guests have also postponed,” Branson said Tuesday in a blog post.
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The blonde tycoon waxed on the beauty of the past hurricanes he endured while warning his fellow islanders to stay safe.
“I beheld nature at its most ferocious,” he said of Earl and Otto. “The power of the sea breaking over the cliff tops, the eerie hush when you are in the eye of the hurricane and then the roar of the winds, the lightning and the rain.”
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