On Monday, April 15, Parisians and the world watched in horror after the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris caught fire. Though much of the historic building still stands and no one was hurt, the Paris cathedral sustained some serious damage, which has people wondering: Will Notre Dame be rebuilt? So far, all signs and efforts are pointing to yes.
According to the New York Times, more than 50 officials are trying to find the cause of the fire, which still remains unknown, but may be an accident related to construction to restore the cathedral. Some 400 firefighters were at the scene of the blaze, and eventually extinguished the fire at around 9:30 a.m. local time on Tuesday April 16, per The Guardian. Much of the building's interiors and exteriors were damaged in the fire, including many sections made of wood, two-thirds of the roof, and the thin spire atop a tower, which completely collapsed in the flames, according to Huffington Post. Thankfully, much of the historic artwork inside the cathedral was saved, with workers forming a human chain to rescue the cathedral's treasures according to Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo.
On April 15, while the fire was still burning, French President Emmanuel Macron said he would launch a national funding campaign to help rebuild the monument. In a tweet translated into English, he wrote, "We will rebuild Notre Dame cathedral. Together. It’s a part of our French destiny. I’m committing myself: tomorrow a national subscription will be launched, and well outside our borders." Hidalgo also offered her strategy to help rebuild the monument and echoed Macron's call for global collaboration. In a tweet translated to English, she wrote, "I will propose that we organize in the coming weeks a grand international conference of donors, which I am ready to host at the Hotel de Ville, with sponsors from around the world, to raise the necessary funds for restoration." Macron and Hidalgo are supported by the United Nations' UNESCO to restore the site, which the U.N. dubbed a world heritage site in 1991.
Ahead of any official donation campaign launch, donors already pledged hundreds of million euros to rebuild Notre Dame. According to France 24, a campaign on called "Notre-Dame de Paris Je t'aime" launched on French crowd funding website Dartagans, had raised around €23,000 by the morning of April 16. Another campaign launched on group money collection service Leetchi called "Financing the repairs of Notre-Dame de Paris" raised around €12,000 by the same date. Countless other organizations have either donated or set up donation sites.
The rebuilding of the cathedral will also be funded by large donations from individuals and their families, per CNN, as some of France's wealthiest citizens step up to help. As of publishing, the largest donation pledged was announced by Bernard Arnault, the CEO of LVMH Group, which includes luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Givenchy. He and his family pledged €200 million to rebuild the cathedral, which was matched by the Bettencourt Meyers family, which owns L'Oreal. The Pinault family, which owns French luxury conglomerate Kering, also pledged €100 million, along with French oil and gas company TOT, which also pledged €100 million. Per CNN, the amount pledged by wealthy donors and corporations is hovering around €700 million.
Other reports are giving hope to those who love the cathedral. According to The Atlantic, back in 2010 an art professor at Vassar scanned the entire cathedral, inside and out, mapping Notre Dame in minuscule detail. That data, along with high-resolution photos, could be of enormous help restoring the church.
You can help, too. On the off chance you don't have 100 million euros or a laser scanner lying around but still want to help the rebuilding efforts, you can share your photos of Notre Dame to let people see the cathedral as it was before the fire.
As the donations pour in, it's clear that France and the global community has every intention to rebuild the historic structure. Though the exact cost of damages remains to be determined, experts told NBC News that restoration would be expensive, in addition to complicated and lengthy. It seems, though, that those hurdles won't stop all the people dedicated to rebuild this cultural site.