Pres­i­dent Trump’s and Richard Bran­son’s Car­ib­bean homes de­stroyed by Hur­ri­cane Irma

The Star (St. Lucia) - - BUSINESS -

An 11-bed­room man­sion owned by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on the Car­ib­bean is­land of St. Martin is re­ported to have been torn apart by Hur­ri­cane Irma, while the lux­ury home of bil­lion­aire en­tre­pre­neur Richard Bran­son in the Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands was also de­stroyed.

The ex­tent of the dam­age to Trump’s prop­erty is not yet fully known, but French of­fi­cials said that the four most solid build­ings on the is­land had “suf­fered se­ri­ous dam­age,” mak­ing it un­likely Trump’s house had been spared.

A spokesper­son for the Trump or­ga­ni­za­tion said pre­cau­tions had been taken ahead of the storm with­out pro­vid­ing de­tails of dam­age, ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has been try­ing to sell the prop­erty, a wa­ter­front es­tate with a pool and fit­ness cen­ter, and low­ered the list­ing price to $16.9 mil­lion from $28 mil­lion in Au­gust, ac­cord­ing to the Wash­ing­ton Post.

In another blow to Trump, his sea­side Mar-a-Lago re­sort was or­dered to evac­u­ate Friday morn­ing, along with the bar­rier is­lands and low-ly­ing ar­eas of Palm Beach County, the Sun Sen­tinel news­pa­per con­firmed. Trump has owned the pri­vate golf club since 1985. The pres­i­dent has va­ca­tioned and con­ducted busi­ness there nu­mer­ous times early in his pres­i­dency, in­clud­ing host­ing Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe and other for­eign lead­ers, some­times rais­ing con­tro­versy over se­cu­rity.

The evac­u­a­tion is part of a broad at­tempt to get peo­ple to safety be­fore Irma makes land­fall in the state, which is now ex­pected to hap­pen on Saturday.

Bran­son, mean­while, the owner of Vir­gin Air­lines and Vir­gin Me­dia, among other in­ter­ests, on Friday blogged that he and his guests had emerged from the con­crete wine cel­lar in which they rode out the storm un­scathed

Bran­son had tweeted ahead of the storm that he would be hunkering down with guests in the wine cel­lar un­der­neath his house on Necker Is­land.

The tweet drew de­ri­sion for sound­ing tone deaf, given the dire con­di­tions that many other peo­ple across the Car­ib­bean would en­dure. The re­gion has suf­fered ter­ri­ble fi­nan­cial losses as the scale of the de­struc­tion be­comes ap­par­ent. The is­lands de­pend heav­ily on tourism and re­ports and im­ages of the dev­as­ta­tion show that vi­tal in­fra­struc­ture has been badly dam­aged.

At least 10 peo­ple are re­ported to have died. The is­land of Bar­buda, the first to be hit by Irma, has been all but wiped out. Puerto Rico says that nearly 900,000 peo­ple are with­out power, and the Puerto Rico Elec­tric Power Au­thor­ity gave a stun­ning warn­ing Wed­nes­day that parts of the is­land could be with­out elec­tric­ity for up to six months.

“We took shel­ter from the strong­est hur­ri­cane ever inside the con­crete cel­lar on Necker and very, very for­tu­nately it held firm,” the busi­ness­man wrote in a blog post. He ex­plained he was dic­tat­ing the blog us­ing a satel­lite phone “that is just about work­ing, but all other com­mu­ni­ca­tions are down.”

Bran­son said Necker Is­land, which he pur­chased for 180,000 pounds in the late 1970s, has been com­pletely dev­as­tated.

“We are still as­sess­ing the dam­age, but whole houses and trees have dis­ap­peared,” he said. “Out­side of the bunker, bath­room and bed­room doors and win­dows have flown 40 feet away. “

Bran­son said Vir­gin was as­sist­ing in get­ting emer­gency sup­plies to the re­gion and has do­nated to the Bri­tish Red Cross to sup­port re­lief ef­forts, urg­ing oth­ers to do the same.

“Homes can be re­built but lives can’t,” he said on Thurs­day. “Na­ture warn­ing us again of the im­pact of #cli­mat­e­change. We must all do more to com­bat this.”

On Friday, he again urged those in the path of the storm to put safety first.

Ahead of the storm, Bran­son wrote that his guests were en­joy­ing a sleep­over in two rooms.

“I haven’t had a sleep­over quite like it since I was a kid,” he wrote, de­scrib­ing the at­mos­phere on the is­land as “eerie but beau­ti­ful.”

The stock mar­ket fell Friday, af­ter a choppy ses­sion Thurs­day. The Dow Jones In­dus­trial Av­er­age DJIA, +0.17% and the S&P 500 SPX, -0.02% were last down about 0.2%. The Dow has lost 1.1% on the week, while the S&P is down 0.6%.

--- Mar­ket Watch

View of the af­ter­math of Hur­ri­cane Irma on St. Martin.

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