Virginians react to devastating fire at Cathedral of Notre Dame

Virginians react to burning of Notre Dame

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Images of the Notre Dame Cathedral burning Monday had a major impact on people in Virginia.

VCU has a travel abroad program for its students, and one of the options is to live and study in France. A soon to be graduate says the experience, and visiting the Cathedral, was one of the highlights of her life.

Images of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in flames are something VCU senior Joy Joyner would have never imagined.

"Just the visual implications of that is just horrible,” she said.

It seems like just yesterday when she was there in Paris studying abroad. While there last summer, she made sure to visit the Cathedral.

"I was able to climb all the way to the top of the tower - which took forever. Honestly, it doesn’t look like it takes as long as it does but it was a lot of work and just being able to see the Eiffel Tower and the gargoyles, and everything was such an awesome experience,” Joyner said.

Monday, she watched the news coverage as the historic structure became engulfed in flames. The roof collapsing and the spire falling to the ground.

"To be honest with you. I feel sick…Personally, it feels like a major loss,” said Virginia Tech Associate Professor Richard Shyrock.

That’s because when Shyrock isn't teaching French, he lives in Paris.

“It is a very important example of Gothic architecture. It is one of the finest examples in France…This is a building that has withstood countless wars. It’s withstood two world wars,” Shyrock said.

Which is why so many flock to the historic site on any given day, from all over the world. Shyrock believes that won’t change.

"The French will rebuild. That’s in their character,” he said. “I’m glad they were able to get the fire stopped and I’m glad that most of the external structure was still able to stay in tact, especially the towers and everything,” Joyner said.

The Cathedral is the world heritage site of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The group says it stands with France as it works to protect and restore the Cathedral.

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