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I've learned now to live in the moment, to make the most of what I'm doing now as you never know what's going to happen."It feels a like a heavy weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I'm a happier more fulfilled person as a result." Her life has been changed in so many ways by that devastating day.My life was slipping through my fingers before, now I'm living it fully in the here and now. Indeed, between globe-trotting trips for charity and work, she has lived for the last two years in Haiti, probably the only international supermodel to choose Port-au-Prince as a base.She first visited to help build schools with the Happy Hearts Fund, falling in love with the country and then with her boyfriend Laurent Lamothe, a businessman-turned-politician who has just resigned as prime minister after the latest political upheavals.So she desperately tried to grab on to a palm tree, missing one, but catching a second one."I could see lots of people trying to do the same thing, waving and screaming, so much panic and suffering," she said.Her goal was to open 100 new schools by the 10th anniversary, but it just hit 107, in nine countries from Asia to South America."I want us to capture that spirit when the world pulled together and try to make a difference again," she said.
"They'd gone." Nemcova spent eight hours there, first clinging to the tree and then lying amid the mud and debris when the water finally receded, unable to walk, passing in and out of consciousness under the hot sun, her pelvis shattered in four places, as she would later learn.
The parents and their three children all survived the initial terror, then were separated in the catastrophe but eventually found each other amid the chaos of local hospitals.
Nemcova was just as sure at first that her fiancé had lived – "he was such a strong swimmer, of course he'd survive" – but there was to be no happy reunion story for her.
And then it hit, a monstrous tidal wave crashing ashore with unimaginable force, smashing the windows, crushing the walls, and sucking the couple out into the choking swirling waters.
Nemcova briefly saw Atlee for what would turn out to be the final time as she desperately tried to cling to the roof of building and gasped for breath, while all around her, the roar of the water was punctuated by screams.