Hollywood legend Robert De Niro has ‘personally pledged’ to rebuild Barbuda, which has been described as ‘barely habitable’ after taking a direct hit from Hurrican Irma.
According to Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne, Irma, the most powerful Atlantic Ocean storm recorded so far, has left 90% of the nation’s structures and vehicles destroyed, at least one person deal and 60% of its residents homeless.
He said infrastructure on the island was now ‘rubble’.
De Niro is an investor in a resort on the island, alongside billionaire James Packer. The pair bought the former K Club Resort last year and work to transform it has not yet begun.
According to the New York Daily News, initial plans ‘faced controversy with the island’s residents, who legally have ownership of all land in Barbuda and a right to vote on all proposals’.
If and when work goes ahead, the planned resort will be renamed Paradise Found Nobu when it opens.
De Niro said in a statement obtained by the Daily News: “We are beyond saddened to learn of the devastation in Barbuda caused from Hurricane Irma and look forward to working with the Paradise Found Nobu team, the Barbuda Council, GOAB (Government of Antigua and Barbuda) and the entire Barbuda community to successfully rebuild what nature has taken away from us.”
Barbuda’s sister island, Antigua, was not impacted by Hurricane Irma, however, Anguilla reports 90% of government buildings and business structures were damaged as well as 90% of the electricity infrastructure, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organisation.
On the British Virgin Islands, the destruction caused by Hurricane Irma has been devastating according to a statement from director of tourism Sharon Flax-Brutus.
“With cell phone towers down and power outages, it has been difficult to receive communication from within the territory, and to fully assess the damage,” the CTO said.
It added: “The destination has lost entire structures and many homes are without roofs, or have been diminished to merely foundations.”
The travel industry has been asked to get behind a Just Giving campaign that has been launched to raise £9 million for the British Virgin Islands.
St Barths, St Maarten/St Martin have also been significantly damaged, the CTO added.
The CTO itself is also operating a relief fund to raise money for people affected by the hurricane.
Latest reports say 28 people have died in the Caribbean as a result of Irma. Three have been reported dead in Florida.