Phailin is, apparently, about the size of France – something that is very hard to visualise. Good planning means that deaths so far have totalled about 17 but, although the people were moved to storm shelters, coastal towns and villages are wrecked.
I lived in Hong Kong as a child and can remember the Typhoon season, when tropical storms like this would rampage across the area. Before modern communications, as well as radio announcements there was a system of semaphore type posts in elevated areas where cones were hoisted to warn people a typhoon was coming and when 5 cones were hoisted schools closed and ferries shut down. We had to stay indoors until the danger level came back down under 5.
There were huge areas of shanty towns where refugees from communist China lived and I can remember how these areas suffered during typhoons as my mother was involved in organising voluntary help for those most badly affected.