Hollywood publicist and philanthropist Kimber Sowles moved to Paris two years ago, and has been living a 10-minute walk away from the Notre Dame Cathedral.
On a day she was planning to see the blossoms, she instead saw flames.
Sowles watched from 600 meters away as the cathedral burned, eventually toppling the iconic spire.
“I’m walking there and I see it — I just was in shock, there’s so many people but, it was so quiet; just focused, on what was happening, and all you can hear was just sirens. Like you don’t care that anyone else was there, and people came together.”
Chicago resident Mark Duque was just at the Cathedral last Saturday, after he participated in the Paris marathon.
“It was crazy because going here to Paris, we were so aware of all this history of all this… it was kind of scary kasi naririnig ng siren. It’s different from the states loud and intimidating sirens thank God we were safe.”
For now, officials are treating the blaze that gutted out the inside of the 13th-century landmark as an accident, ruling out arson and terrorism.
French President Emmanuel Macron said in a press conference that the worst was avoided, promising that the Cathedral will be rebuilt.
“So I say this very solemnly to you tonight. We will rebuild this cathedral together and it is undoubtedly part of the French destiny and a project for the years to come. But I am committed to it. Starting tomorrow, a national fundraiser will be launched and well beyond our borders we will appeal to the greatest talents and many people will come to contribute to it. And we will rebuild. We will rebuild Notre Dame. Because that’s what the French expect and because it is what our history deserves, because it’s our underlying destiny. Thank you.”
Sowles, who travels to the Philippines for her own philanthropic projects, says she’s ready to help her adopted home.
“It’s something that’s touched our lives.. something that’s real important to people here. I already heard the people here want to donate millions of dollars.”
In the two years since Sowles has moved to Paris, she’s seen her adopted city go through several tragedies including terror attacks, but each time, the people were able to bounce back from the tragedy.
“They’re very resilient, they’re strong, they don’t let anything get to them, they don’t dwell on things, and I feel; that’s how they move on over here and they try to do the best that they can start new.”
This resiliency was evident as the fire was put under control.
Tourists and Christians sang and prayed outside the cathedral.
This moment was caught by a visiting Filipino tourist: https://www.facebook.com/752973431/posts/10157373734688432?sfns=mo.