'We don't know if it's enough': $1 billion may not cover Notre Dame Cathedral rebuilding costs after fire

Joel Shannon

Days after a fire engulfed Paris' beloved Notre Dame Cathedral, fundraising efforts neared the $1 billion mark. But officials estimate the international surge in donations may not yet cover the rebuilding costs.

Stephane Bern, who heads heritage renovation programs across France, estimates the cost to completely repair the church will reach $1.13 billion to $2.3 billion.

A spokesman for the cathedral told CBS News that current donations may not cover those costs.

"We don't know if it's enough or not," Andre Finot said, the network reported Saturday. "You can say it's crazy to have a billion euros but we don't know. Maybe the cost is two or three billion."

French President Emmanuel Macron has called for Notre Dame to be rebuilt in five years. France, he said, would "convert this disaster into an opportunity." Architects say the repairs could take decades.

"Paris needs Notre Dame," said Aime Cougoureux, the owner of Ma Bourgogne, a popular restaurant near the Victor Hugo museum. "The tourists love it, too, especially Americans. When there are no Americans in Paris, it's an economic crisis."

The fundraising effort has sparked debate after multiple French billionaires pledged massive donations.

International news coverage has spotlighted negative reactions, often accompanied by a general sympathy for the massive rebuilding cause. A common position among critics: The mega-donations prove social problems could be quickly addressed if the wealthy were motivated to do so.

Contributing: Kim Hjelmgaard, Ryan W. Miller and Doyle Rice, USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'We don't know if it's enough': $1 billion may not cover Notre Dame Cathedral rebuilding costs after fire