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.
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.
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.