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Petra Nemcova, Nate Berkus Relive Tsunami Nightmare

The horrifying earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan is hitting close to home for Petra Nemcova and Nate Berkus.
/ Source: E!online

The horrifying earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan is hitting close to home for Petra Nemcova and Nate Berkus.

The supermodel and the interior designer survived but lost their loves in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, and now both say they when they watch footage of the devastation, they are reliving the nightmare.

Both made the rounds on the morning shows to recount their personal tragedies. Here's what they had to say.

MORE: Nate also suffered a heath scare last year

"The power is so enormous, you feel powerless, you can't do anything," Nemcova, who was in Thailand in 2004, told Good Morning America's Robin Roberts. "The more you fight you lose your energy, so you have to try and stay calm, but there are doors and trees crashing into you. You're trying to catch your breath but you can't, you just have to stay calm and alert."

Nemcova became one of the celebrity faces of the 2004 tsunami after clinging to a palm tree with a broken pelvis for eight hours. Her photographer boyfriend, Simon Atlee, was unable to hold on and perished in the disaster.

The model, newly engaged and planning her wedding to British actor Jamie Belman had been rehearsing for Dancing With the Stars when she saw the "horrifying" news on Friday. She is asking people to donate to her charity, the Happy Hearts Funds, which benefits children in areas hit by natural disasters. The group has so far built 50 schools in nine countries.

"My heart is going out to everyone in Japan because of my experience," Nemcova said. "Happy Hearts Fund comes in after the first responders leave because it can be up to two to 10 years until actual development can be complete in these areas, but Happy Hearts come in immediately where we rebuild schools and that's when the kids can just be normal again. If I could ask anyone for help in Japan I'd ask them to help in the Happy Hearts Fund."

Berkus, meanwhile, was on Today to discuss how he lost his partner, photographer Fernando Bengoechea, while vacationing in Sri Lanka at the time of the 2004 tsunami. Oprah's favorite interior designer said that when he watches the devastation in Japan the "sounds and smells" of his own tragedy come back to him.

"The first thing I heard was the sounds of trees snapping and structures collapsing and then I was pinned under the bed," he said. "The scariest part [of the tsunami] is what you're in the water with, it's a soup of bodies and babies and the most horrible things you can imagine."

Berkus and his partner both were both holding onto a telephone pole as the waves washed over them. Bengoechea told Berkus that he thought "it was over now." The water then chanegd direction, sweeping the photographer away.

"That was the last time I saw him," Berkus said.

Following the 8.9 magnitude quake and deadly tsunami, Japan is now dealing with a nuclear meltdown and a death toll expected to top 10,000.

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