Donald Trump’s first clumsy attempt to connect with the French as the famous center of Paris Notre Dame Cathedral burned was ill-conceived. France’s identity and the French population’s heart was on fire. Our commander-in-chief tweeted his advice for how to handle the firefighting, based upon his own management style “Must act quickly!” No offense, but that appeared pretty obvious. After Trump tweeted this unwanted advice, he managed to offer something useful.
The U.S. president’s first suggestion for the French fire chiefs was to use flying water tankers to flood the flames. “Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out.” The only problem with that was the pressure of such a drop could have easily destabilized the entire structure and caused it to collapse. The day after the fire, Trump gave diplomacy another shot. He phoned French President Emmanuel Macron to express his condolences over the loss of the devastating fire, which did not destroy the landmark cathedral, but seriously damaged it.
Then, POTUS also offered U.S. assistance in rehabbing Notre Dame. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released a statement that read, according to Reuters:
‘Notre Dame will continue to serve as a symbol of France, including its freedom of religion and democracy. We remember with grateful hearts the tolling of Notre Dame’s bells on September 12, 2001, in solemn recognition of the tragic September 11th attacks on American soil. Those bells will sound again.’
Notre Dame Cathedral is one of the most important icons of religion, history, and architecture. It has been “considered among the finest examples of European Gothic architecture” and a true representation of world civilization. Nearly 50,000 people visited the cathedral every day or over 13 million each year. Macron pledged to have the cathedral completely restored within five years. Although that might sound like a long time, consider that it took centuries to build this remarkable structure.
A combination of French corporations and “local authorities” had pledged over 700 million euros to rebuild the cathedral, and three old French families added 500 million euros from within the first 24 hours.
That translated to nearly $800 million to rebuild that cathedral. The three billionaire families contributed approximately $570 million. These families are the owners of French luxury goods: Ering, LVMH, and L’Oreal.
Americans across the country have also been inspired to contribute to the reconstruction. “The New York-based French Heritage Society and the Go Fund Me crowdsourcing platform” made some of the earliest offers of financial support.
At this time, the heritage charity Fondation du Patrimoine does not have a figure for the total cost. First, the structure needed to be stabilized, covered to protect the remaining art, and evaluated.
Authorities indicated that they believed the fire was accidental. As for Trump’s suggestion of the water drops used to fight American forest fires, a spokesman for the French interior ministry said:
‘Dropping water on this type of building could result in the collapse of the entire structure onto the firefighters trying to save Notre Dame.’