Nate Berkus

6 of 10
Nate was washed into a relatively calm area behind one of the few houses that was still standing after the first wave.

"I found myself in this pool of water where I wasn't being pushed in any direction. There was a fence: the water was about as high as the top of the fence, and the fence was made out of logs and palm fronds."

Nate believed that his only hope was in reaching that house's roof. "Every time I stepped on a log, the water would take it away. So I would fall back, and then have to grab onto the next log. It happened about three times. Finally, the last log stayed in the ground and I was able to pull myself up on it and then reach the edge of the rooftop that was covered in red tiles."

Nate was determined. "I thought to myself, I just need to climb up and I'm certain that Fernando is doing the same somewhere right around here. I reached out to grab the tile and the tile just broke off in my hand and I fell again.

"I climbed back up on the post and I thought to myself, 'I am going to die if I don't get on top [of the roof],' and somehow I was able by just squeezing the side of the rooftop to pull my whole body on top of it.

"There was a Sri Lankan man sitting hanging onto the post and once I was up on top and out of the water, I reached down to try and help him. He grabbed my hand but didn't have the strength to come up and then grabbed my arm and didn't have the strength to come up and I don't know what happened to him. On the rooftop, I just started calling out for Fernando and looking all around and just was expecting for him to say, 'I'm here' or 'I'm hurt' or 'I'm in this tree.'"