Branson calls for 'Marshall Plan' to help Caribbean

By Ray Downs  |  Updated Sept. 12, 2017 at 6:41 AM
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Sept. 11 (UPI) -- British billionaire Richard Branson called for a new Marshall Plan to help the Caribbean islands recover from the destruction of Hurricane Irma.

"The region needs a 'Disaster Recovery Marshall Plan' for the [British Virgin Islands] and other territories that will aid in recovery, sustainable reconstruction and long-term revitalization of the local economy," Branson wrote Sunday on his blog, referencing the Marshall Plan that was enacted to help European nations recover after World War II. "This will have to include building resilience against what is likely to be a higher intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, as the effects of climate change continue to grow."

Branson, who lives on Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands, which were devastated by Irma, rode out the storm in his wine cellar. He said he is now coordinating recovery efforts through government agencies, aid organizations and media to help the islands in the region.

But Branson said there needs to be a more mobilized effort to deal with the aftermath of hurricanes. Since the storm passed through the region, killing 24 people in Anguilla, Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, St. Martin, St. Barts and the U.S. Virgin Islands, there have been reports of rising crime due to the lack of infrastructure.

"In my home at night, we are locked in like a bunker," said Conn Davis, a British Virgin Islands resident, told NBC News. "Last night I had people in my garage with flashlights looking around. I'm armed 24/7 with an assault weapon and handgun."

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