The roof flies off a house as super typhoon Megi, known locally as Juan, hits Ilagan City, Isabela province, northern Philippines October 18, 2010.  REUTERS/Stringer

I didn’t really know what to expect on the eight-hour drive up to Isabela province in the northeast of Luzon island after it was hit by Megi, a super typhoon with winds in excess of 250 kph (155 mph).

I knew it was a strong typhoon – the strongest in the world this year – but even so, standing in Cauyan town, I was shocked. The scale of devastation was enormous and it’s obvious why a state of calamity has been declared.

An aerial view of houses and rooftops that were damaged two days after typhoon Megi hit the shoreline of Palanan town, Isabela province October 20, 2010.  REUTERS/Francis Dy-Courtesy of Isabela Governor Office/Handou

As a Filipino, I’ve experienced many typhoons – they are a fact of life here, with more than 20 a year hitting the country on average. Last year, Manila was flooded by a once-in-a-lifetime storm. But this was different.

Thousands of houses and huts were knocked down. People searched through the remains of where they once lived, looking for their valuables, their mementos, and anything that could be salvaged to use in the rebuilding process.

Beverly Adora, 20, dries her photographs after their house were ruined by Typhoon Megi in Ilagan town, Isabela province, north of Manila October 21, 2010.  REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

Cars were blown to the sides of roads and motorized three-wheelers had been hurled into flattened rice fields. Across the northern provinces more than 350,000 tonnes of rice, about five percent of the country’s December quarter harvest, had been destroyed.