Petra Nemcova had never even heard the word "tsunami" until one hit her.
Now the Czech supermodel is calling on the United Nations to help the world better prepare for natural disasters.
"Human nature is being reactive instead of proactive, but in the case of natural disasters when you are being reactive it is often too late," Petra said. "In the case of tsunamis there's a beautiful thing that you have, time. So if there are the right early warning systems, education and preparedness you can save lives."
She was holidaying in Thailand with fiance Simon Atlee in 2004 when the waves struck. He drowned and she barely survived, with serious injuries, including a broken pelvis. After recovering, she founded the Happy Hearts Fund to rebuild schools devastated by natural disasters.
Nemcova and Tomas Alvarez-Belon, whose tsunami survival story was portrayed in the film The Impossible, were at UN headquarters in New York ahead of World Tsunami Awareness Day on November 5