JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- May 3, 1999, is a day Jacksonville Suns catcher JT Realmuto said he'll never forget.
"We were in the cellar and you could hear the tornado coming and it sounded like a freight train. And it lasted a good 30-45 seconds," Realmuto said.
The F-5 tornado ripped through the city of Moore, Oklahoma. The storm packed the highest winds ever recorded near the earth's surface.
Forty-four people were killed and hundreds of homes were destroyed.
"We came out of the cellar and like you see on TV now, just rubble, nothing left," he said.
Realmuto said the tornado tore off their roof and blew out windows. Minor damage in comparison to his neighbors.
"My neighbor's house actually had a car in their living room. It went through the roof and landed in the living room. It was just devastation," said Realmuto.
Realmuto said Monday's powerful tornado spared his parents home this time around.
"It was headed for our house and picked up off the ground and luckily jumped our house. But it brought back memories of May 3rd, which took the exact same track."
Realmuto said seeing pictures of his hometown is heartbreaking.
"I feel for the people who are going through it right now. They'll get through it just like we did."
Because, Realmuto said, the people of Moore are some of the most resilient.
"When devastation strikes like that, everybody comes together and it's the reason I'm proud to be from that area. You don't even have to know people and you're trying to help them."
First Coast News