Oklahoma City area was hammered by EF5 tornado in 1999

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Governor of Oklahoma laments devastation to Moore

Congressman compares damage of two storms

The 1999 killer tornado hit some of the same neighborhoods; it claimed 36 lives

CNN  — 

Monday afternoon’s devastating tornado in the Oklahoma City suburbs brought to mind a May 1999 EF5 twister that killed 36 people and smashed some of the same communities.

On May 3, 1999, a total of 74 tornadoes pummeled Kansas and Oklahoma, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The states counted a total of 46 dead. Thirty-six died in Oklahoma City.

The strongest tornado, rated a maximum EF5 on the Fujita Tornado Scale, tracked for nearly an hour and a half along a 38-mile path from Chickasha through south Oklahoma City and the suburbs of Bridge Creek, Newcastle, Moore, Midwest City and Del City.

Monday’s tornado in Oklahoma city, with a preliminary rating of at least EF4, also struck Moore and Newcastle. Dozens – some of them elementary school children – died, authorities said.

The tornado “hit along the same path of the May 3 tornado in 1999,” said Gov. Mary Fallin. “It’s just hard to believe that something like this could happen again to Moore itself.”

According to the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center, the 1999 Oklahoma City twister was among the costliest in U.S. history, with damage totaling at $1 billion.

Albert Ashwood, director of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, told reporters the two tornadoes are “equally devastating.”

10 deadliest U.S. tornadoes on record

“And I think the fact that what we see so far today is going to be very similar if not exceed what we saw in 1999,” he said. “But keep in mind, any time there’s a loss of life, it’s a devastating disaster.”

Heather Moore survived both the 1999 and Monday’s storms.

“It was very, very similar,” Moore told CNN’s Piers Morgan. “Cars were turned over, some houses were half gone, some houses were all gone. … All the trees are gone, all the power lines are gone.”

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, who lives in Moore, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer the damage he was seeing on television Monday looked as bad as the 1999 tornado that destroyed more than 1,000 houses in his hometown.

Moore is located between Oklahoma City and Norman – home to the University of Oklahoma – on the south side of the metropolitan area.

The second deadliest tornado in the Oklahoma City area occurred on June 12, 1942, with 35 residents killed, according to the National Weather Service.

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CNN’s Jason Hanna, Phil Gast and Caitlin Stark contributed to this report.