Nate Berkus and Oprah

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When catastrophe strikes and you know someone in it, it all becomes more real. Nate Berkus, who has helped dozens of guests on the show decorate their homes, was vacationing in Sri Lanka with his partner when the tsunami hit. While Nate survived, his partner, photographer Fernando Bengoechea, is still missing.

After the final wave receded, the stunned tourists and locals of Arugam Bay and nearby Pottuvil were left to face the utter devastation left behind. In this area alone, more than 400 people died and hundreds were injured. Dozens are still missing. More than 2,000 homes were damaged or destroyed leaving an estimated 7,000 homeless. It will be years before this former paradise will be able to recover from this historic disaster.

When Nate finally made the emotional 30-hour journey back from Sri Lanka, Oprah visited him at his home, where he told of unbelievable stories of courage and of loss, of anguish and compassion. There are countless stories like these rising from the heartbreaking wreckage of southeast Asia. Nate is here today to share his own story.