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Richard Branson has said he will remain on his private island in the Caribbean even as it faces being battered by the "potentially catastrophic" Hurricane Irma.
The billionaire businessman published a blog post Tuesday saying that he would ride out the storm with fellow British Virgin Islands residents, despite the eye of the storm being headed directly for his own Necker Island.
Branson has remained with his team on the island during previous hurricanes, which have hit the island three times since he bought it in 1979, but this is the first time Necker has been in the eye of the storm.
"I will be on Necker alongside our team, as I have been on the three times we have had hurricanes over the past 30 years," Branson said Tuesday.
"Generally speaking, we have one hurricane in the British Virgin Islands around every 10 years," he added.
"Fortunately, most of them drift north of us, but this one is coming straight for us, with the eye of the storm heading straight for Necker, Moskito Island and Virgin Gorda. Obviously things can change – hopefully they do, as a category 5 hurricane hasn't hit the BVI (British Virgin Islands) full on before."
Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 storm packing winds of 185 miles per hour (295 kilometers per hour), passed over the island of Barbuda east of Puerto Rico early on Wednesday. It is expected to close in on BVI, the U.S. and several other Leeward Islands, including Anguilla, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis.
Branson said that the facilities on Necker Island had been built to withstand hurricanes and severe weather, but he said "almost nothing" can withstand a Category 5 hurricane – the highest possible rating.
Branson said that guests staying on the island had returned home, while those due to arrive had postponed their visit.
It is thought that Hurricane Irma could be one of the most powerful Atlantic storms to hit the Caribbean in a century, with U.S. National Hurricane Center forecasters predicting its impact to be "potentially catastrophic."
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