A member of the Emergency Operations Committee (COE) monitors the trajectory of Hurricane Irma in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic September 5, 2017.

Ricardo Rojas | Reuters

A member of the Emergency Operations Committee (COE) monitors the trajectory of Hurricane Irma in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic September 5, 2017.

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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