Virginians react to Notre Dame Cathedral fire

Visiting the cathedral was one of the highlights of a Virginia student's life

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A tourist boat on the Seine River passes by Notre Dame Cathedral on April 9, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

ROANOKE, Va. - Images of the Notre Dame Cathedral burning Monday had a major impact on some people in Virginia.

Virginia Commonwealth University has a travel abroad program for its students, and one of the options is to live and study in France. A senior of VCU, said her experience and visiting the cathedral was one of the highlights of her life.

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

She watched the news coverage as the historic structure was in flames. 

"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.

An associate professor at Virginia Tech Richard Shyrock was also shocked by the event. That's because when he isn't teaching in Virginia, he lives in Paris.

"To be honest with you. I feel sick," said Shyrock. "Personally, it feels like a major loss." 

The cathedral is the World Heritage Site of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The group says it stands with France as it works to protect and restore the cathedral.

If you would like to donate to the restoration, visit the Notre Dame website

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