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“The momentum of generosity does not diminish:” 840 million euros collected from donations for the restoration of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris

The “generosity momentum” to finance work on Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris “does not diminish”, with about 840 million euros collected, the president of the public institution responsible for the reconstruction of the French cathedral, partially destroyed by a fire in April 2019 , announced on Wednesday .

The amount of 842.8 million euros, collected thanks to French and foreign donors, “allows us to see the future with confidence,” General Jean-Louis Georgelin told a French Senate committee when asked about the state of play and ” transparency ”of funding.

The French energy giant Total contributed 100 million euros, as did the Bettencourt Foundation, a sponsorship structure for the heirs of the founder of the L’Oréal cosmetics group, whose donation amount was not specified, writes Agerpres.

The work schedule envisages a reopening in 2024, the general reaffirmed. On the other hand, work on the surroundings of Notre-Dame in Paris is “the responsibility of the Paris City Hall” and “will probably not begin until 2025”, which involves rethinking “temporary access to the cathedral for tourists,” especially during the Olympic Games ”, which Paris will host in three years.

Weather, unforeseen work, (limited) disruptions due to the Covid pandemic and above all the numerous measures and arrangements related to reducing lead emissions have caused some delays and additional costs. A final assessment of the cost of the works will be announced by the end of the year.

Six months after the Notre Dame Cathedral fire, President Macron’s promises seem completely unfounded

There were images that caught the attention of the whole world in April: the historic Notre Dame, the cathedral in Paris, engulfed in flames. A wave of generosity followed: France’s elite pledged millions of euros to restore it, and President Emmanuel Macron solemnly announced that the famous cathedral would be rebuilt in just five years. Now, after a few months, however, concern is growing and residents of the area, such as Denise Charensol, fear that the president’s promises are unfounded. Watch a report by “Focus Europa”, a Digi24 and Deutsche Welle project. The show is broadcast on Friday at 23:00 and rerun on Saturday at 19:30.

Notre Dame Cathedral is an integral part of Denise Charensol’s life. Every day, from her balcony, she looks to see if her beloved building is still standing. Half a year after the fire, Denise has not yet recovered from her trauma.

“There, right in front of us, was the tower. I saw it catch fire, begin to sway, right and left, then collapse. It was awful, ”says  Denise Charensol, a local from  Ile-de-la-Cité.

The lives of the residents of the neighborhood after the fire in Notre Dame

The fire broke out on April 15 . His cause is still a mystery. Dismayed and fearful of Notre Dame, thousands of people gathered spontaneously in front of the cathedral and millions remained pinned in front of the televisions. Denise and her husband watched anxiously from their balcony all night.

“I could feel the warmth in my chest. I was sitting there screaming in anger. I didn’t understand why firefighters couldn’t put out the fire. The tears did not come until dawn. That’s when I cried, ”says Denise.

Since the night of the fire, nothing in her neighborhood has been the same. Where the subway entrance used to be, people come across a construction site fence. The old lady, as they affectionately call the cathedral, is suddenly inaccessible. And many suffer because of it.

“I was born here, like my great-grandparents. My children were baptized in the cathedral. My son always asks me if Notre Dame will be the way it was again. I tell him: Look, it’s working. The crane lifts construction materials. You don’t have to look too far into the future. Every day is a small step forward, “says  Florence Mathieu,  a souvenir seller.

Architects are angry with President Emmanuel Macron

Maybe they are taking steps forward, but much slower than the locals would like. The cathedral is still in danger of collapsing. The building itself must first be stabilized, says architect Elisa Querub. She’s mad at President Emmanuel Macron. He promised to rebuild the cathedral in just five years . A totally unrealistic promise.

“Renovations will take at least 10 years, and only if a miracle happens and the right kind of wood and stone is found and if all the workers work properly. This fire plunged us into a huge crisis. We expected the government to ask the French people to trust us, the experts. But that didn’t happen, “says architect Elisa Querub.

After all, Notre Dame is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The government must make absolutely every effort. He owes it to Parisians and tourists. 15 million people around the world visited this place every year before the fire.

“I am very sad. Of course “, says a tourist.

“It simply came to our notice then. I saw everything on TV and it hurt a lot, because we had been there a few days before “, says a man.

Today’s travelers and tourists don’t seem to want to stay here so long or buy anything near the cathedral.

“My father had to reduce the schedule for our employees. Some have been working for us for 35 years. For their families, this is traumatic, “said Florence Mathieu, a souvenir saleswoman.

400 tons of toxic lead

The thing the eyewitnesses of the night of the fire could not know was that over 400 tons of toxic lead would vaporize and spread over the neighborhood. Official information about the dangers after the fire was almost non-existent.

This shocked Mathé Toullier so much that he took on the task that the authorities did not perform. In the following weeks he went from door to door to warn the locals.

“In fact, the whole site must be completely isolated. Lead molecules must not reach the environment during construction work, ”says  Mathé Toullier, of the  Association Against Lead Poisoning.

Claude and Denise worry about the kids in the neighborhood. Meanwhile, the municipality has cleaned the courtyards of schools and kindergartens.

Claude and Denise are Catholics and believe that God has personally protected Notre Dame and saved her from collapse so far.

“It simply came to our notice then. That’s how I see it, “says Claude.

”  Nothing happened to Madonna and her baby . There were crumbs all around her, and she had not the slightest scratch. That’s a surprise, “says Denise.

Claude and Denise are very sure that Notre Dame will remain standing, as majestic as before, and they hope to see this.

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